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Astronomers Obtain First Image Of Extra-Solar Planet

A Sun-like star (A), called GQ Lupi, is orbited by an object (b) that may be a planet. AFP Photo.
Jena, Germany (SPX) Apr 06, 2005
German astronomers have obtained the first photograph of a planet beyond our solar system.

The planet shows a distinct reddish-orange orb, with a white center, just to the right of the parent star. No surface details are visible.

The planet, larger than any moving around our sun, orbits the star GQ Lupi (a star about 1 million to 2 million years old) every 1,200 years, said Ralph Neuhaeuser, director of the Astrophysical Institute and University Observatory in Jena, Germany.

The planet is thought to be one to two times as massive as Jupiter, according to the scientists who imaged it. It orbits a star similar to a young version of our Sun.

"The detection of the faint object near the bright star is certain," Neuhaeuser, of the Astrophysical Institute & University Observatory (AIU) said on Friday.

Neuhaeuser and colleagues used pictures from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan's Subaru Telescope in Hawaii and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile, taken between 1999 and September 2004, to produce the image.

The discovery will be published in an upcoming issue of journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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"Earths" Galore Await Discovery
Milton Keynes, UK (SPX) Apr 05, 2005
How many planets like the Earth are there among the 130 or so known planetary systems beyond our own? How many of these "Earths" could be habitable?

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