Sunday, 16 November 2008

An update on Fomalhaut b

Pull up your trousers here and here.

The image I posted last time doesn't really make a good case for the presence of a planet around Fomalhaut. It's just a fuzzy dot among fussy dots. Now here's the clincher - they imaged it twice, and lo it hath moveth. Behold:

Credit: NASA, ESA and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

Fomalhaut b, as it is called, is on an 872 year orbit at 10 times Saturn's distance from our Sun. I've heard mass estimates between 1 and 3 Jupiters based upon the stellar dust ring. If the planet were bigger or smaller the ring formation would be different or it would have rapidly dissipated. Fomalhaut is 25 light-years away.

NASA/ESA have a good report at Space

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