Astronomers have captured the first ever snapshot of multiple exoplanets orbiting a Sun-like star! From Space.com
The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile photographed two giant planets circling TYC 8998-760-1, a very young analogue of our own sun that lies about 300 light-years from Earth, a new study reports.
While there are existing direct images of exoplanets, this is the first time that scientists have captured more than one in a single image AND around a star that is so much like our own. The planets, designated as TYC 8998-760-1 b & c, are 14 and 6 times as massive as Jupiter, which is most likely why our telescopes were able to detect them.
As a note for visual astronomers, there are a number of objects visible in the image above that are somewhat ambiguous. Specifically, the three objects on the left side of TYC 8998-760-1 are background stars. Experienced visual astronomers will see the difference between those objects and the more defined outlines of the two exoplanets, especially if they’ve spent any time looking at some of our solar system’s more remote worlds like Neptune or Uranus.
This is also exciting news because it leaves open the potential for these worlds to have rocky or icy companions orbiting the star as well. The scientists involved in the research will continue to search and who knows what we’ll find out in the coming years!