Researchers photograph a newborn exoplanet

The presented image is made up of two images taken using the SPHERE spectrograph mounted on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). On them, you can see a newborn exoplanet orbiting the star AF Leporis.

An exoplanet orbiting the star AF Leporis. Source: ESO/Mesa, De Rosa et al.

AF is a young main sequence star located 87 light-years from Earth. Its age is only 24 million years. During the analysis of data collected by the Hipparcos and Gaia missions, two independent teams of researchers found deviations of the luminary from the calculated position. They concluded that the AF Leporis has an invisible companion which gravity has an effect on its trajectory.

To verify this assumption, astronomers used the SPHERE spectrograph. This instrument is equipped with an adaptive optics system that neutralizes the influence of atmospheric turbulence, as well as a coronagraph. It cuts off the light of the star, which makes it possible to observe objects in its vicinity.

The observations were successful. The researchers managed to photograph the object in the vicinity of AF Leporis. It turned out to be a newly formed gas giant, which has about four times the mass of Jupiter. To date, this is the “lightest” exoplanet found using a combination of astrometry and direct photography methods.

According to scientists, in its basic physical characteristics, the AF Leporis resembles the Sun. Around the star will also find a residual disk resembling the Kuiper belt. In the future, scientists intend to continue studying this system. This can help them understand the features of the formation of the Solar System.

Recall that astronomers recently found an Earth-like exoplanet 72 light-years from the Sun.

According to

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