Thursday, June 17, 2010

A big expoplanet in a wide orbit

The circled dots indicate the 8 Jupiter mass planet that was discovered by David Lafrenière and colleagues as it orbits the star 1RXS J160929.1-210524. A preprint is also available. These infrared images of the system are acquired at wavelengths of 3 (left) and 4 (right) microns. This giant exoplanet orbits about 300 AU away from the primary star (cross), which is quite remarkable, because current models of planet formation generally do not produce such large planets orbiting at such great distances from the star. However, binary stars do exist at these separations, so one might wonder whether these objects really are large exoplanets, or are perhaps rather small stars.

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