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Image of an Extrasolar World?

Space.com is reporting that a European team led by Ralph Neuhaeuser of the Astrophysical Institute & University Observatory has obtained a photograph of an extrasolar planet around GQ Lupi, a young star about 400 light years from Earth. The image shows a faint object the team believes to orbit some 100 AU from its parent star, an apparently young and hot planet.

From the article:

The planet is about 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit (2000 Kelvin) — not the sort of place that would be expected to support life. Neuhaeuser’s team has also detected water in the planet’s atmosphere. The world is expected to be gaseous, like Jupiter. It is about twice the diameter of Jupiter. The mass estimate — one to two times that of Jupiter — is “somewhat uncertain,” Neuhaeuser said.

The planet is three times farther from GQ Lupi than Neptune is from our Sun. “We should expect that the planet orbits around the star, but at its large separation one orbital period [a year] is roughly 1,200 years, so that orbital motion is not yet detected.”

The two Spitzer Space Telescope detections earlier this month measured the change in light as a planet passed between its star and the Earth. The new photograph may be the first to show an extrasolar planet as an image. Another possible planetary image was released in September, although the star in question, 2M1207, is actually a brown dwarf and the detection has not been confirmed.