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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

'First ever' look at a planet outside our solar system: 'Super-Jupiter' gas giant 129 light years from Earth coated in a thick orange atmosphere is revealed after a new technique provides the world's first direct observations of an exoplanet

Astronomers have studied a 'super-Jupiter' exoplanet 129 light years from Earth and found it has a stormy atmosphere made of iron and silicate.
The planet, known as HR8799e, was first discovered in 2010 orbiting a star in the Pegasus constellation but a new method has allowed astronomers to study it in greater detail.  
It was analysed using a new method that combines light from four different telescopes which is then combined to allow scientists to directly analyse the planet. 
The immense brightness of an exoplanet's star often makes it impossible to view directly.  
Usually scientists have to employ indirect methods to study exoplanets because of the blinding light of their stars.  
This artist's impression of the planet HR8799e is created from the data created from four different telescopes and filtering the light of the planet and its star apart to get a detailed view of its atmosphere. The 'super-Jupiter' 129 light years from Earth was found to have a stormy atmosphere with swirling clouds of iron and silicate (artist's impression)
This artist's impression of the planet HR8799e is created from the data created from four different telescopes and filtering the light of the planet and its star apart to get a detailed view of its atmosphere. The 'super-Jupiter' 129 light years from Earth was found to have a stormy atmosphere with swirling clouds of iron and silicate (artist's impression)
The technique, called optical interferometry, allowed four telescopes to work as one and allowed for scientists to develop an imaging system sensitive enough to disentangle light from the planet and its parent star. 
Findings from Gravity, an instrument that combines four light beams from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in Chile, appear in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics
It is a world unlike any found in our own solar system that is both more massive and much younger than any planet orbiting the sun.

This wide-field image shows the surroundings of the young star HR8799 in the constellation of Pegasus. This picture was created from material forming part of the Digitised Sky Survey 2
This wide-field image shows the surroundings of the young star HR8799 in the constellation of Pegasus. This picture was created from material forming part of the Digitised Sky Survey 2

The planet, known as HR8799e, was first discovered in 2010 orbiting a star in the Pegasus constellation (pictured) but a new method has allowed astronomers to study it in greater detail
The planet, known as HR8799e, was first discovered in 2010 orbiting a star in the Pegasus constellation (pictured) but a new method has allowed astronomers to study it in greater detail

Sylvestre Lacour, from the Paris Observatory in France and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, said: 'Our observations suggest a ball of gas illuminated from the interior, with rays of warm light swirling through stormy patches of dark clouds.
'Convection moves around the clouds of silicate and iron particles, which disaggregate and rain down into the interior.
'This paints a picture of a dynamic atmosphere of a giant exoplanet at birth, undergoing complex physical and chemical processes.'
Previous Gravity achievements include last year's observation of gas swirling at 30 per cent the speed of light just outside the massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Schematic lay-out of the VLT Interferometer tool that made the discovery possible. Light enters two of the VLT telescopes and is reflected by the various mirrors into the Interferometric Tunnel.  Two Delay Lines continuously adjust the length of the paths so that the beams interfere constructively, allowing the data to be analysed
Schematic lay-out of the VLT Interferometer tool that made the discovery possible. Light enters two of the VLT telescopes and is reflected by the various mirrors into the Interferometric Tunnel.  Two Delay Lines continuously adjust the length of the paths so that the beams interfere constructively, allowing the data to be analysed

WHAT IS THE VERY LARGE TELESCOPE?

The European Southern observatory (ESO) built the most powerful telescope ever made in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
It is called the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and is widely regarded as one of the most advanced optical instruments ever made.
It consists of four telescopes, whose main mirrors measures 27 feet (8.2 metres) in diameter.
There are also four movable six feet (1.8 metre) diameter auxiliary telescopes.
The large telescopes are called Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun. 

The first of the Unit Telescopes, 'Antu', went into routine scientific operations on April 1, 1999.
The telescopes can work together to form a giant 'interferometer'.
This interferometer allows images to be filtered for any unnecessary obscuring objects and, as a result, astronomers can see details up to 25 times finer than with the individual telescopes.  
It has been involved in spotting the first image of an extrasolar planet as well as tracking individual stars moving around the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
It also observed the afterglow of the furthest known Gamma Ray Burst, 

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