Planet and star are indeed moving together

June 29, 2010, University of Montreal

Newly confirmed planet is least massive planet known to orbit from its host star (Gemini Observatory)
( -- A planet about eight times the mass of Jupiter has been confirmed to orbit a Sun-like star that's some 300 times farther from its own star than Earth is from its sun.

The newly confirmed planet is the least massive planet known to orbit at such a great distance from its .

The discovery, first reported in September 2008, was made using high-resolution technology at the Gemini Observatory. These latest results, published in the , were led by David Lafreničre of the University of Montreal Department of Physics and a researcher at the Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec.

The suspected planetary system required further observations to confirm that the planet and star were indeed moving through space together. "Back in 2008 what we knew for sure was that there was this young planetary mass next to a young Sun-like star," says Lafreničre.
The extreme proximity of the two objects strongly suggested that they were associated and not just aligned by chance.

"Our new observations rule out this chance alignment possibility, and thus confirms that the planet and the star are related to each other," says Lafreničre.

With its initial detection by the team using the Gemini Observatory in April of 2008 this object became the first likely planet known to orbit a sun-like star that was revealed by direct imaging. At the time of its discovery the team also obtained a spectrum of the planet and was able to determine many of its characteristics, which are confirmed in this new work.

"In retrospect, this makes our initial data the first spectrum of a confirmed exoplanet ever," says Lafreničre, adding the images show water vapor, carbon monoxide and molecular hydrogen in the planet's atmosphere.

Explore further: VLT captures first direct spectrum of an exoplanet

More information: Cited article from Astrophysical Journal:

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not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
At first glance I thought the headline claimed that a planet was orbiting a star, and that system was in-turn orbiting another star.

Until I read the real article, that is. That'd be a pretty wild setup though...
not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
@Adriab I thought the same exact thing.
not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
"Newly confirmed planet is least massive planet known to orbit from its host star"

That caption is not exactly a beacon of clarity either.
5 / 5 (4) Jun 29, 2010
@ Adriab:

Actually, binary star systems are quite common. Perhaps 1/3 of the milkyway is composed of two or more stars in binary or multi-star systems. The scenario you suggest, where a planet orbits one of the two stars in a binary system is also common, and several are known. This type of orbit is called an "S" type orbit. The other type of orbit is where the planet orbits around the combined gravitational center of mass of both stars at the same time and this is called a "P" type orbit.

Binary systems are thought to be more fertile for producing planets than single stars. The second and third closest stars to our sun, Alpha Centari A and B are a binary pair, and the closest star to us, Proxima Centari, is thought to orbit with them which would make it a trinary system, but Proxima Centari hasn't been definitively proven to be part of that system yet.

No planets are know to exist in the Alpha Centari system yet.
5 / 5 (3) Jun 29, 2010
The size and spacing of the A-B system allows for the theoretical orbits of terrestrial type planets in what we call the habitable zone around both stars, as well as the possibility of terrestrial planets in P type orbits around the whole system, far beyond the habitable zone. Now THAT would be an interresting scenario. Possibly being able to look up into the sky from one of those planets and see a second sun part of the year as well as possibly being able to see a planet around the second sun too.

The second sun would appear far dimmer than our moon appears to us in the sky though.
Jun 29, 2010
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not rated yet Jun 29, 2010
I know that binary systems are common. Brain failure on my part partially caused by the strange wording of the headline?
not rated yet Jul 01, 2010
Yes, the headline is bad, but that's common on this site.

No prob panorama. I love this kind of stuff. The conditions common around the cosmos are so far away from our day to day experience that it's hard to even imagine some of it.
not rated yet Jul 01, 2010
Actually this "planet" is comparable to smallest sub-brown dwarf observed, located 500 light years away in the constellation Chamaeleon. Cha 110913-773444 is the smallest brown dwarf found to date with 8 Jupiter masses, too - and it's way, way smaller in diameter.


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