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Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'

 
Rain-Man
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11/20/2012 08:54 AM
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Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'
Astronomers using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii have discovered a "super-Jupiter" around the bright star Kappa Andromedae, which now holds the record for the most massive star known to host a directly imaged planet or lightweight brown dwarf companion.

Designated Kappa Andromedae b (Kappa And b, for short), the new object has a mass about 12.8 times greater than Jupiter's.

"According to conventional models of planetary formation, Kappa And b falls just shy of being able to generate energy by fusion, at which point it would be considered a brown dwarf rather than a planet," said Michael McElwain, a member of the discovery team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But this isn't definitive, and other considerations could nudge the object across the line into brown dwarf territory."

Massive planets slowly radiate the heat leftover from their own formation. For example, the planet Jupiter emits about twice the energy it receives from the sun. But if the object is massive enough, it's able to produce energy internally by fusing a heavy form of hydrogen called deuterium. (Stars like the sun, on the other hand, produce energy through a similar process that fuses the lighter and much more common form of hydrogen.) The theoretical mass where deuterium fusion can occur -- about 13 Jupiters -- marks the lowest possible mass for a brown dwarf.

Kappa And b orbits its star at a projected distance of 55 times Earth's average distance from the sun and about 1.8 times as far as Neptune; the actual distance depends on how the system is oriented to our line of sight, which is not precisely known. The object has a temperature of about 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,400 Celsius) and would appear bright red if seen up close by the human eye.

[link to www.nasa.gov]
Rain-Man (OP)

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11/20/2012 09:37 AM
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Re: Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'

Anonymous Coward
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11/20/2012 09:51 AM
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Re: Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'
cool
Dr. AstroModerator
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11/20/2012 09:58 AM

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Re: Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'
That's on the razor's edge of being a brown dwarf (13MJ).
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11/21/2012 07:42 AM
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Re: Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'
That's on the razor's edge of being a brown dwarf (13MJ).
 Quoting: Dr. Astro


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