The alien planet is eight times the mass of Jupiter and orbits at an
unusually great distance from its host star ? more than 300 times farther
from the star than our Earth is from the sun.
Astronomers first discovered the planet in 2008 using visible light
observations from telescopes on Earth, making it the first direct photo of
an extrasolar world. But at the time there was still the remote chance that
it only looked like it was orbiting the star, from the perspective of Earth,
due to a lucky alignment of object, star and observer.
?Our new observations rule out this chance alignment possibility, and thus
confirms that the planet and the star are related to each other,? said
astronomer David Lafreniere, who led the research team that discovered the
The new observations that confirm the planet circles its parent star were
made using high-resolution adaptive optics technology at the Gemini
Observatory. The observatory is an international collaboration with two
identical 8-meter telescopes, located at Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Cerro Pachon
in northern Chile.
Planet around young star
The host star, which has an estimated mass of about 85 percent that of our
sun, is located approximately 500 light-years away in a group of young stars
called the Upper Scorpius Association that formed about 5 million years ago.
The planet has an estimated temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit
(about 1,500 degrees Celsius). This makes the planet much hotter than
Jupiter, which has an atmospheric cloud-top temperature of approximately
minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 110 degrees Celsius).