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Astronomers Image Lowest-mass Exoplanet Around a Sun-like Star

Glowing a dark magenta, the newly discovered exoplanet GJ 504b weighs in with about four times Jupiter's mass, making it the lowest-mass planet ever directly imaged around a star like the sun. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger

Glowing a dark magenta, the newly discovered exoplanet GJ 504b weighs in with about four times Jupiter's mass, making it the lowest-mass planet ever directly imaged around a star like the sun.

Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger

Astronomers have observed an enormous planet, which is several times the mass of Jupiter and similar in size, around the bright star GJ 504 using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. This giant planet, GJ 504b, is the lowest-mass planet ever discovered around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.

"If we could travel to this giant planet, we would see a world still glowing from the heat of its formation with a color reminiscent of a dark cherry blossom, a dull magenta," said Michael McElwain, a member of the discovery team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Our near-infrared camera reveals that its color is much more blue than other imaged planets, which may indicate that its atmosphere has fewer clouds."

GJ 504b orbits its star at almost nine times the distance Jupiter orbits the sun, which presents a challenge to theoretical ideas of how giant planets form.

Read the full story on NASA's website.  

 

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