World Premiere: Astronomers Capture Image of Exoplanets Revolving Around Sun-Like Star

The Universe never ceases to amaze us, and so it goes with human progress in the astronomy field. Astronomers always had huge difficulties in spotting planets revolving around other stars, even with their ultrapowerful telescopes. In general, exoplanets are like olives in an ocean of ink – you can’t directly see them unless they’re passing in front of their stars or they’re close enough to be illuminated by them.

The Very Large Telescope (VLT) from Chile is now the culprit for another noteworthy discovery. Two giant exoplanets were located orbiting a Sun-like star and photographed for the first time. The star’s moniker is TYC 8998-760-1, and you would need to travel a fair amount of distance to see its planets up close: almost 300 light-years.

A very young star compared to our Sun

TYC 8998-760-1 is ‘only’ 17 million years old. While it sounds like an eternity for us humans, this number pales by comparison with the age of our Sun, which is 4.6 billion years old. However, the star resembles the Sun very much for the identical mass of the two cosmic objects.

But the weirder part of the newfound planetary system is the large mass of the exoplanets and their huge orbits. One of the planets is 14 times more massive than Jupiter, while the other one has a mass that is six times bigger. The distances of their orbits are 160 and 320 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, respectively.

Alexander Bohn, lead author of the research and who works at the Leiden University from Netherlands, says:

“This discovery is a snapshot of an environment that is very similar to our Solar System, but at a much earlier stage of its evolution,”

The scientist tries to explain the large separations between the exoplanets:

“To explain the large separations of our detected planets, however, some kind of outward migration is required,”

“This can be performed by gravitationally scattering off of each other or with another, so far undetected, third object in the system.”

The discovery also suggests that there could be more ways of a planetary system being born that astronomers never knew about.

The study was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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