Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hubble’s infrared eyes home in on suspected extrasolar planet

11.01.2005


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.

Lars Christensen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/html/heic0501.html
http://www.eso.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm
16.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Supermassive black hole model predicts characteristic light signals at cusp of collision
15.02.2018 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>