Jupiter-Sized Planet and Parent Star Photographed Together 1,200 Light-Years Away

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Jupiter-Sized Planet and Parent Star Photographed Together 1,200 Light-Years Away

The small dot on the upper left is CVSO 30c. The large white blob is the planet’s parent star, CVSO 30. Credit: ESO
The small dot on the upper left is CVSO 30c. The large white blob is the planet’s parent star, CVSO 30. Credit: ESO




Ever saw those videos where the camera starts zooming out, and it’s zooming and zooming up until you can’t see the thing it started from? Or what about those videos from the ISS (International Space Station) showing people walking down the street? If you think these are amazing, then what would you say about a group of German researchers who were able to capture a Jupiter-sized exoplanet and its parent star some 1,200 light-years away?.

Even though we sometimes calculate distance with time, with things like “a 15-minute walking distance” or “a two-hours drive away”, we haven’t yet grasped the whole concept of a light year and for what enormity it actually stands. Let’s put it this way – one light-second is about 300 million meters per second, over 670 million miles per hour, or over 1 billion kilometers per hour. In one second, light travels around the Earth 7.5 times (300 thousand kilometers or 187 thousand miles).

Now, there are 3,600 seconds in one hour, 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year. Multiply 300,000 – kilometers per second – with the 31.5 million seconds in one year and you have the distance of a light-year. That’s an astronomical 9,500 billion kilometers (5,870 b. miles) light travels through space in one year’s time!

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Now that we got some numerical perspective, at least, let’s multiply that distance, yet again, with the1,200 light-years the above CVSO 30 star is away from us. And when you think people were able to take a picture of that. Can you imagine? That’s utterly amazing!

With that being said, the newly discovered planet, CVSO 30c, has the mass of about 4 to 5 times that of Jupiter. It lumbers around its parent star, making a full circle every 27,000 Earth years, at a distance 660 times bigger than that of Earth and the Sun (660 AU). Here in this system there is also another planet called CVSO 30b, six times larger than Jupiter and discovered back in 2012.

The team led by Dr. Tobias Schmidt of the Universities of Hamburg and Jena discovered CVSO 30  by directing their NACO and SINFONI instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope towards the Orion constellation and, particularly, a cluster of almost 200 low-mass stars collectively known as the 25 Orionis group.

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location of 25 Orionis in the Orion constellation

Within the cluster of stars, this system exists. What’s particularly interesting about it is that it’s only two or three million of years old, and yet it has at least two planets already formed in it. CVSO 30 is among the youngest in the 25 Orionis group. These odd circumstances will have the attention of the German scientists in the future, trying to figure out how a planetary system was able to form in such a brief time. Their findings so far were published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal .

“CVSO 30 is the first system, in which both a close-in and a wide planet candidate are found to have a common host star,” Dr. Schmidt and co-authors said.

“Both orbits may have formed during a mutual catastrophic event of planet-planet scattering,” Schmidt added.