Hubble Directly Observes a Planet Orbiting Another Star

This is the kind of thing that can excite me. Imaging a planet 25 light years away in visible light. The Hubble Space Telescope ha done just that.

Around the star Formalhaut Hubble found a ring of dust, corresponding to the Kuiper Belt in our own solar system. an Anomaly in the shape of the ring indicated that the gravitational pull of a planet influenced the ring. The hunt was on.

Two images taken 21 months apart show an object following the star and apparently orbiting Formalhaut in about 870 years.

Before we get too excited, there is no real chance of finding any ET’s in the Formalhaut system. The star is only 200 million years old and burning fast – the life expectancy is only 1000 million years, not enough for life as we know it to develop.

There are indications of further planets around Formalhaut, this time inside the dust ring, but none are observed yet.

More details from ESA’s website

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