posted on Jan, 8 2013 @ 09:22 PM
LONG BEACH, California – Astronomers have confirmed that a controversial exoplanet called Fomalhaut b actually does exist and have calculated its
potential orbit. The results show that the object is even stranger than scientists could have imagined, dubbing it a “rogue planet.”
The uncertainty about this object started in 2008, when scientists released an image taken with NASA’s Hubble space telescope of a tiny dot of light
in the debris disk of a young, bright star called Fomalhaut, which is about 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. At the time,
they presented only two data points, showing the exoplanet as it existed in 2004 and 2006. It was a sensational image — the enormous debris disk
made the star resemble the “Eye of Sauron” from the Lord of the Rings movies — and was one of the first directly imaged extrasolar planets ever
But follow-up from other researchers failed to find the purported world. The original instrument on Hubble that saw Fomalhaut b broke in 2007 and was
never replaced, meaning the team that discovered the exoplanet couldn’t reproduce their results either. When they spotted it in 2010 with another
instrument, the object seemed to have drifted too far to the right to be in orbit around the star. This led some astronomers to discount the discovery
of Fomalhaut b.
But late in 2012, a few other telescopes managed to snap images of the exoplanet. And now, the original team has presented their own new data. “We
have three times as many orbits and there you see it very clearly in 2012,” said astronomer Paul Kalas of the University of California at Berkeley
and the SETI Institute, pointing to a new image released today during a press conference here at the American Astronomical Society 2013 meeting.
edit on 8-1-2013 by CaptainBeno because: sorry forgot link