First extrasolar planet photo
April 4, 2005 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Orbiting GQ Lupi: first confirmed images of extrasolar planet
posted by dfowler (14 comments total)

 
Crap. There are 2 pop-up ads on that second link ("first confirmed images of extrasolar").
posted by dfowler at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2005


"The system is young, so the planet is rather warm, like a bun fresh out of the oven."
mmmmmm....fresh planet.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 8:28 AM on April 4, 2005


Besides, the one we're on is getting stale.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:32 AM on April 4, 2005


I used to edit astronomy articles, and I swear that I read about the first confirmed sighting of an extrasolar planet something like two years ago.
posted by goatdog at 8:34 AM on April 4, 2005


Never mind. That was a transiting planet, which was "visible" as it crossed over its star. This is the first one they've got pictures of on its own.

For the real astro-geek: The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia.
posted by goatdog at 8:37 AM on April 4, 2005


I used to edit astronomy articles, and I swear that I read about the first confirmed sighting of an extrasolar planet something like two years ago.

According to the article, there are about 150 known extra-solar planets.
posted by spicynuts at 9:03 AM on April 4, 2005


dfowler writes " Crap. There are 2 pop-up ads on that second link ('first confirmed images of extrasolar')."

There are no pop-ups anywhere. Who still sees unrequested popups?

TechnoLustLuddite writes " mmmmmm....fresh planet."
Also, the planet is very far from the star -- about 100 times the distance between Earth and the Sun

It is unfortunate that when astronomers say "close" it is analog to when geologists say "young"
posted by nkyad at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2005


Why is it called GQ? Because it's an extremely well-dressed planet?
posted by LeLiLo at 10:33 AM on April 4, 2005


lelilo writes " Why is it called GQ? Because it's an extremely well-dressed planet?"

I think GQ Lupi is the name of the star - I think they haven't named the planet.
And I haven't got the reference either. What's the relation between GQ Lupi and "well-dressed"?
posted by nkyad at 12:14 PM on April 4, 2005


GQ the magazine. Short for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. I thought the GQ in the planet name might be an acronym as well.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:28 PM on April 4, 2005


If I were a planet, I'd want to be a combination of and.
posted by dfowler at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2005


I used to edit astronomy articles, and I swear that I read about the first confirmed sighting of an extrasolar planet something like two years ago.

According to the article, there are about 150 known extra-solar planets.


Yeah, but the point is that most of those planets have been seen indirectly, using techniques (interferometry; astrometry) that detect the gravitational effect they have on their companion stars. This is the first time that an orbiting planet has been imaged directly, which is no mean feat considering that planets don't emit any light of their own.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:49 PM on April 4, 2005


dfowler: "If I were a planet, I'd want to be a combination of and.

That's cool. I've got no fear of a black planet.

Thank you, thank you... I'll be here all week...
posted by koeselitz at 5:52 PM on April 4, 2005


Before anyone gets too excited about this (assuming that anyone else at all gets excited about these things, as I do) ...

1) In the actual paper, there are three different models that they look at to estimate the mass of the object. Two of the models indicate that the mass is somewhere between one and forty-two Jupiter masses. One indicates that it's two Jupiter masses. And *none* of these models are particularly well-calibrated for young objects, which this is. Anything above thirteen Jupiter masses is too big to be considered a planet.

2) While they make this clear in the abstract of their paper, they don't bother to say so in their press release. The title of their paper also refers to it as a "co-moving sub-stellar companion", and don't bother to call it a planet at all. Mainly because the scientific community would have called them out on it if they did. Frankly, it sounds like they're trying to grab the glory of the first direct extra-solar planet sighting in the public eye, but they're honestly far from sure of it themselves.

3) Even *if* the model they have chosen is the correct one *and* it is accurate for objects this young, the margin of error on it is such that there's only about a 2 in 3 chance that they've got the right mass anyway.

4) The person who mentioned above that this isn't the first claim of a direct sighting is correct. There have been a couple in the last two years or so, all with serious problems that make them likely to be wrong.

So, barring more information, I think this is likely just a plain old brown dwarf (not a particularly unique find) that they are trumpeting up for the press.

Full disclosure: my girlfriend is an astrophysicist working on a team looking for extra-solar planets.

Incidentally, it's called GQ Lupi because it's the 179th (I think) variable star which was found in the constellation Lupus, and they're designated in order - AA, AB, AC, etc. I rather like "RU Lupi", which does well in the "funniest star name" contests.
posted by kyrademon at 10:23 PM on April 4, 2005


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