Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hubble’s Infrared Eyes Home In On Suspected Extrasolar Planet

Date:
January 11, 2005
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Unique follow up observations carried out with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope are providing important supporting evidence for the existence of a candidate planetary companion to a relatively bright young brown dwarf star located 225 light-years away in the southern constellation Hydra.

This is an artificial-colour Hubble Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) infrared-light view of the brown dwarf star 2MASSWJ 1207334-393254 (aka 2M1207) and giant planet companion candidate. The possible companion, estimated to be about five times the mass of Jupiter, is the magenta coloured spot at lower right. The brown dwarf’s location is within the circle at image centre. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Schneider (Steward Observatory, Univ. of Arizona, USA), I. Song (Gemini Observ.), B. Zuckerman, E. Becklin (Univ. of California, USA), P. Lowrance (California Inst. of Technology, USA), B. Macintosh (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA), M. Bessell (Australian National Univ.), and C. Dumas and G. Chauvin (European Southern Observatory)

Unique follow up observations carried out with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope are providing important supporting evidence for the existence of a candidate planetary companion to a relatively bright young brown dwarf star located 225 light-years away in the southern constellation Hydra.

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile detected a planet candidate in April 2004 with infrared observations using adaptive optics to sharpen their view. The VLT astronomers spotted a faint companion object to the brown dwarf star 2MASSWJ 1207334-393254 (aka 2M1207). The object is a candidate planet because it is only one-hundredth the brightness of the brown dwarf (at the longer-than-Hubble wavelengths observed with the VLT) and glimmers at barely 1000 degrees Celsius, which is cooler than a light bulb filament.

Because an extrasolar planet has never been directly imaged before, this remarkable observation required Hubble’s unique abilities to do follow-up observations to test and validate if it is indeed a planet. Hubble’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) camera conducted complementary observations taken at shorter infrared wavelength observations unobtainable from the ground. This wavelength coverage is important because it is needed to characterize the object’s physical nature.

Very high precision measurements of the relative position between the dwarf and companion were obtained with NICMOS in August 2004. The Hubble images were compared to the earlier VLT observations to try and see if the two objects are really gravitationally bound and hence move across the sky together. Despite the four months between the VLT and NICMOS observations, astronomers say they can almost rule out the probability that the suspected planet is a background object, because there was no noticeable change in its position relative to the dwarf.

If the two objects are indeed gravitationally bound together they are at least 8 billion kilometres apart, about 30 percent farther apart than Pluto is from the Sun. Given the mass of 2M1207, inferred from its spectrum, the companion object would take a sluggish 2,500 years to complete one orbit. Therefore, any relative motion seen between the two on much shorter time scales would reveal the candidate planet to be a background interloper and not a gravitationally bound planet.

”The NICMOS photometry supports the conjecture that the planet candidate is about five times the mass of Jupiter if it indeed orbits the brown dwarf,” says Glenn Schneider of the University of Arizona, USA. “The NICMOS position measurements, relative to VLT's, indicate the object is a true (and thus orbiting) companion at a 99 percent level of confidence – but further planned Hubble observations are required to eliminate the 1 percent chance that it is a coincidental background object which is not orbiting the dwarf.”

Schneider is presenting these latest Hubble observations today at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego, USA.

The candidate planet and dwarf are in the nearby TW Hydrae association of young stars that are estimated to be no older than 8 million years. The Hubble NICMOS observations found the object to be extremely red and relatively much brighter at longer wavelengths. The colours match theoretical expectations for an approximately 8 million-year-old object that is about five times as massive as Jupiter.

Further Hubble observations by the NICMOS team are planned in April 2005.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Hubble’s Infrared Eyes Home In On Suspected Extrasolar Planet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111091215.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2005, January 11). Hubble’s Infrared Eyes Home In On Suspected Extrasolar Planet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111091215.htm
European Space Agency. "Hubble’s Infrared Eyes Home In On Suspected Extrasolar Planet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111091215.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Study Says The Moon Was Deformed Early In Its History

New Study Says The Moon Was Deformed Early In Its History

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Scientists say when the moon was young, it was deformed by the Earth's gravitational pull, which gave it a lemon-like shape. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

Supply Ship Takes Off for International Space Station

AFP (July 30, 2014) The European Space Agency's fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) is takes off to the International Space Station on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins