An international team led by Université de Montréal researchers has discovered and photographed a new planet 155 light years from our solar system.
A gas giant has been added to the short list of exoplanets discovered through direct imaging. It is located around GU Psc, a star three times less massive than the Sun and located in the constellation Pisces. The international research team, led by Marie-Ève Naud, a PhD student in the Department of Physics at the Université de Montréal, was able to find this planet by combining observations from the Gemini Observatory, the Observatoire Mont-Mégantic (OMM), the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) and the W.M. Keck Observatory.
A distant planet that can be studied in detail
GU Psc b is around 2,000 times the Earth-Sun distance from its star, a record among exoplanets. Given this distance, it takes approximately 80,000 Earth years for GU Psc b to make a complete orbit around its star! The researchers also took advantage of the large distance between the planet and its star to obtain images. By comparing images obtained in different wavelengths (colours) from the OMM and CFHT, they were able to correctly detect the planet.
"Planets are much brighter when viewed in infrared rather than visible light, because their surface temperature is lower compared to other stars," says Naud. "This allowed us to indentify GU Psc b."
Image 1. The planet GU Psc b and its star GU Psc composed of visible and infrared images from the Gemini South telescope and an infrared image from the CFHT. Because infrared light is invisible to the naked eye, astronomers use a colour code in which infrared light is represented by the colour red. GU Psc b is brighter in infrared than in other filters, which is why it appears red in this image.
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