Exoplanet GU Psc b Takes 80,000 Years to Orbit Its Star

Posted on May 13, 2014

GU Psc b image made with imagery from Gemini South telescope and infrared imaged from CFHT

Exoplanet GU Psc b takes 80,000 years to orbit its star. The planet is 2,000 times the Earth-Sun distance from its star. The gas giant is 155 light years from our solar system. It is one of the few planets to be discovered through direct imaging. The above image is composed of visible and infrared images from the Gemini South telescope and an infrared image from the CFHT. The planet was discovered by an international research team, led by Marie-Eve Naud, a PhD student in the Department of Physics at the Universite de Montreal.

Artist's concept of GU Psc b

The researchers took advantage of the large distance between the planet and its star to obtain images. By comparing images obtained in different wavelengths, they were able to correctly detect the planet.

Naud says in a statement, "Planets are much brighter when viewed in infrared rather than visible light, because their surface temperature is lower compared to other stars. This allowed us to indentify GU Psc b."

The light spectrum of GU Psc b, obtained from the Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii, was used to determine the planet has a temperature of around 800°C. Knowing the age of GU Psc due to its location in AB Doradus, the team was able to determine its mass, which is 9-13 times that of Jupiter.

The planet was found by combining observations from the Observatoire Mont-Mégantic (OMM), the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), the W.M. Keck Observatory, and the Gemini North and South Observatories. The discovery indicates that a very large distance can exist between planets and their stars. The researchers say this opens the possibility of searching for planets with powerful infrared cameras using much smaller telescopes such at the one at the Observatoire du Mont-Megantic.

A research paper on Gu Psc b is published here in The Astrophysical Journal.

Top Image: Universite de Montreal

Artist's view of the planet: © Lucas Granito