Thursday, January 14, 2010

Astronomers Obtain First Direct Spectrum of a Planet Orbiting Star (Besides The Sun)

The results of the first direct spectrum of a planet orbiting distant star showed some unexpected results. This data should prove valuable in updating our models.

Picture embedded below.

Image of the HR 8799 system. Image credit: MPIA / W. Brandner

"Astronomers have obtained the first direct spectrum – a “chemical fingerprint” – of a planet orbiting a distant, Sun-like star, providing direct data about the composition of the planet's atmosphere. An international team of researchers studied the planetary system around HR 8799 a bright, young star with 1.5 times the mass of our Sun, and focused on one of three planets orbiting the star. While the results were unusual and pose a challenge to current models of the exoplanet's atmosphere, the accomplishment represents a milestone in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe."

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