A giant exoplanet where none has been seen before

Humans have an eye for the familiar: for people, for civilizations, for planets and planetary systems that match what we have seen in the past. For this reason, as well as a few others, we rarely find something truly unique in the universe. When we do, it’s often by happenstance. Finding a planet ten times the mass of Jupiter orbiting 40 times further out than Pluto was in some ways unexpected.

“It’s not a type of exoplanet we had previously found and it’s certainly not one that the theorists were expecting,” said paper co-author PhD student Marie-Eve Naud at the University of Montréal, “especially not around low-mass stars like GU Psc (~30% the mass of the Sun).”

Last June, Astrobio.net ran the surprising story of a planet 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter that formed 80 AU from its parent star. In yet another twist in the continuing saga of planetary treasure-hunting, researchers in Naud’s group at the University of Montréal announced the discovery of a planet many times the mass of Jupiter at an incredible distance from its star: 2000 AU.

This planet-GU Psc b-is so far from its star that it could be photographed without the aid of adaptive optics, appearing as an independent point of infrared light from its star GU Psc. Via Far out: A giant exoplanet where none has been seen before.

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