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First Photo of planet circling another star

  1. May 12, 2004 #1

    The historic first image of a planet circling another star may have been taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

    The "planet", 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter, is orbiting a small white dwarf star about 100 light-years away.

    Astronomers are being cautious, saying they require more data to be sure it really is a planet and not a background object caught in the same field of view.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2004 #2
  4. May 12, 2004 #3


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    I think it's just considered irresponsible journalism to release the star's name untill after its next-of-kin can be notified:biggrin:.

    Awesome photo, if it's true!
  5. May 12, 2004 #4


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  6. May 12, 2004 #5


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    I notice that there's an inconsistency between the two reports; one says the WD star is "about 100 light-years away", the other "The object is one of three planet candidates found in the new study around white dwarf stars between 30 and 55 light-years away". If it's the latter, and at the lower limit, it might appear in the RECONS database.

    Note also that waiting to see how the object moves, wrt the WD, over the next few months/years will certainly rule it out as a possible orbiting planet (if the motion is clearly inconsistent with an orbit), but won't necessarily confirm its status (relative motion that mimics a ~30 au planetary orbit is unlikely, but not impossible).

    Using only public resources, it may be possible to find where this star is, to within a few arcmins; anyone like to say how?

    Does the WD have a catalogue name/number (apart from any which Debes gave it)? Almost certainly! The HST needs to know where to look, so if Debes et al had a target list of 7 WDs, it most likely came from a bigger catalogue. But is the catalogue a 'niche' one? or a broad one? In the RECONS database, the absolute magnitude of the WDs is between ~11 and 15; at ~10pc, the Debes WD may be in a broad catalogue (and may even have been observed by HIPPARCOS!); at ~30pc, it may be too faint to appear in any broad catalogue.
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