Astonomers Image Magenta Planet GJ 504b

Posted on August 12, 2013

GJ 504b magenta exoplanet


Astronomers have imaged GJ 504b, an exoplanet which glows a dark magenta. An artist's depiction of the planet is pictured above. The planet has several times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits the bright star GJ 504. GJ 504b is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.

Michael McElwain, a member of the discovery team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in the announcement, "If we could travel to this giant planet, we would see a world still glowing from the heat of its formation with a color reminiscent of a dark cherry blossom, a dull magenta. Our near-infrared camera reveals that its color is much more blue than other imaged planets, which may indicate that its atmosphere has fewer clouds."

The astronomers say GJ 504b orbits its star at nearly nine times the distance Jupiter orbits the sun. Under the core-accretion model, Jupiter-like planets get their start in the gas-rich debris disk that surrounds a young star. GJ 504b's distance from its star does not jibe with the core-accretion theory.

Markus Janson, a member of the research team and a Hubble postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University in New Jersey, says, "This is among the hardest planets to explain in a traditional planet-formation framework. Its discovery implies that we need to seriously consider alternative formation theories, or perhaps to reassess some of the basic assumptions in the core-accretion theory."

Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger