There are a huge number of planets circling other stars, but just a few have been directly imaged. The existence of the remainder is concluded from their effects on their stars.
The largest optical telescope on the planet has now spotted a new planetary system, the very first time more than a single planet has been imaged close to a star such as our Sun. Astronomers utilized the European Southern Observatory’s Very large Telescope (VLT) to watch the Sun-like star TYC 8998-760-1, 300 light-years from Earth. Making use of the VLT’s Spectro Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research (SPHERE) instrument, that has an optical mask known as a coronagraph to block out a star’s light, they could see two planets orbiting it (pictured above), as reported in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. In the above image (center left), a bit of light can be seen from the star, as can the 2 giant planets (right) in addition to a scattering of background stars.
The photographs will help astronomers find out how planetary systems change over time. TYC 8998-760-1, at only 17 million years , is a child version of our 4.5-billion-year-old Sun, but their orbiting planets could not become more different. The 2 recently found exoplanets are fourteen as well as six times the size of Jupiter, our biggest planet, and orbit sixteen and thirty two times farther out than Saturn. If this system is likely to develop into something like ours over the next several billion years, astronomers have got some explaining to do.