A team of scientists in Canada have taken what may well be the first actual image of an exoplanet! Not just any exoplanet either — it’s around a Sun-like star.
That bright spot in the upper left of this image is, as far as they can discern, a big jovian planet. 8 times as massive as Jupiter, and ten times as hot, it shines brightly in infrared. In my humble opinion it’s also quite a testament to how good the Gemini telescopes really are!
This planet, around the star 1RSX J160929.1-210524 (catchy name, as always) is 330AU away from it’s parent star. In our solar system, that would put it well past the Kuiper belt. To me, that’s interesting in itself. A jovian planet that far out. Almost makes you wonder if there really is another planet around the Sun… Though obviously it wouldn’t be nearly as big, or we’d have noticed it by now.
Another interesting thing is, could a moon around a hot giant like this support life? Tidal forces from such a massive object could create so much heat that a Europa analog around this planet could be positively balmy, at least on the inside.
Do I spend too much time speculating…?