Astronomers used Chile’s massive telescope to take photos of two giant planets orbiting a young star roughly the same mass as the Sun, the researchers reported on July 22 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The star, named TYC 8998-760-1, is approximately 300 light-years from the constellation Musca. At just 17 million years old, the planet’s family is a young person compared to the 4 billion-year-old solar system.
Although astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets, most are not directly observed. Instead, they are discovered as shadows intersecting in front of their stars, or as unseen forces pulling their stars.
Only a few of the ten planets have been photographed around other stars, and only two of these stars have more than one planet. Unlike the sun, says astronomer Alexander Bohn of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands – one is larger than the sun, the other less massive.
These two planets of this star are unlike anything we see in the solar system. The inner planet, an enormous weighing 14 times the mass of Jupiter, is 160 times farther from its star than Earth is from the sun. The exterior weighs six times the mass of Jupiter and orbits its brother twice. In comparison, the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which flies at the edge of the sun’s magnetic influence in interstellar space, is always closer to the sun than any planet is to its star (SN: 9/12 / 13).
These families of exoplanets may provide new information on the construction of solar systems. “Like many other discoveries of exoplanets, this discovery informs us of other situations we never would have imagined,” said Bohn.
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