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Hubble sees evidence for exoplanet
Posted: Thu, Jun 23, 2005, 8:01 AM ET (1201 GMT)
Formalhaut dust ring (STScI) Astronomers said Wednesday that they have detected evidence for an extrasolar planet orbiting a nearby young star. Hubble images of the star Formalhaut, a 200-million-year-old star 25 light-years from the Earth, show that the star is surrounded by a narrow, dusty ring whose center is offset from the star by over two billion kilometers. That offset leads astronomers to conclude that one or more objects, likely orbiting the star inside of the ring, is reshaping the ring. In addition, the ring's inner edge is sharper than its outer edge, suggesting that an orbiting object is sweeping out material. Astronomers conclude that the object is most likely an exoplanet of unknown mass, since a larger object, like a brown dwarf, would have been directly seen by Hubble.
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