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Astronomers snap first photo of exoplanet

Posted on Wednesday, September 17 2008 @ 19:32:10 CEST by

For the first time ever, astronomers believe they have directly observed an exoplanet that circles a star like our own Sun. The exoplanet is huge, it has a mass about eight times that of gas giant Jupiter and is located about 500 light-years from Earth.
"This is the first time we have directly seen a planetary mass object in a likely orbit around a star like our Sun," said lead author David Lafreniere.

"If we confirm that this object is indeed gravitationally tied to the star, it will be a major step forward."

The planet itself lies out at a great distance from its parent star: about 330 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

By comparison, the most distant planet in our Solar System, Neptune, orbits at about 30 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Dr Matt Burleigh, from the University of Leicester, UK, commented: "This is a very good candidate for a first picture of a planet orbiting a normal star.
More info at BBC News.



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