Friday, November 14, 2008
NASA claims that visible-light surveys by the Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the existence of the planet, called Fomalhaut-b, 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis (Southern Fish). Astrononers confirmed the young, Saturn-like planet's 872-year orbit by measuring its displacement between the two Hubble exposures 21 months apart and applying Kepler's laws of planetary motion. The planet was named after its star, Fomalhaut, and orbits about 10.7 billion miles from the star—about 10 times the distance from Saturn to our Sun—inside a giant debris disk about 21.5 billion miles in diameter. For years, astronomers have predicted the planet's existence using various indirect methods, but NASA recently reported details about how the Hubble Space Telescope confirmed its existence with rare visible light photographs.
Posted by R. Colin Johnson at 7:54 AM