Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Beta Pictoris b

This image taken by the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) shows a planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris. In addition to the image, the GPI obtains spectral information from every pixel element in the field of view, allowing scientists to study the planet in great detail.

Beta Pictoris b is a giant planet -- several times larger than Jupiter -- and is approximately ten million years old. This near-infrared image show the planet glowing in infrared light from the heat released in its formation. The bright star Beta Pictoris is hidden behind a mask in the center of the image; a few scattered starlight artifacts, called speckles, are also visible but vastly fewer than in previous images.

Image credit: Gemini/Christian Marois, NRC Canada

Note: For more information, see Powerful Planet Finder Turns Its Eye to the Sky.

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