Skip to main content

Hubble shows planets from new solar system

It's right in the middle... look VERY closely
It's right in the middle... look VERY closely

Two groups of planets have been photographed outside of our solar system. They are located 25 light years away and were snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The problem astronomers usually face is the light from the star the objects are circling is too bright to allow the planets to be distinguished.

But now scientists have managed to digitally subtract the light from the parent entity, leaving only the light from the planets.

The first is a planet believed to be the coldest and lowest-mass entity seen beyond our own solar system. Even colder than when you run your finger under a cold tap for 10 minutes.

Planetary trio

The second discovery is of an exoplanetary system circling a star in the Pegasus constellation, made of three planets.

Other such discoveries have been claimed in the past, but they have been disproven or simply cannot be verified at the moment, as they rely on fairly inaccurate methods to find the planets.

"I nearly had a heart attack at the end of May when I confirmed that Fomalhaut b (the first, cold planet) orbits its parent star," Dr Paul Kalas of the University of California, Berkeley, and leader of the project, said to BBC News.

"It's a profound and overwhelming experience to lay eyes on a planet never before seen."

However, the method only allows the viewing of planets the size of Jupiter or larger, meaning that other smaller planets in the same area cannot currently be seen.