Astronomers discover new planet orbiting Milky Way star

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Astronomers at the National Center for Scientific Research at Grenoble Alpes University in France have discovered a second planet revolving around the star Beta Pictoris, outside of our solar system.

Beta Pictoris is a young Milky Way star surrounded by a dust disk, according to Nature magazine.

“We talking about a giant planet about 3,000 times more massive than Earth, situated 2.7 times further from its star than the Earth is from the Sun,” said Anne-Marie Lagrange, an astronomer at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and lead author of a study in Nature Astronomy.

“To better understand the early stage of formation and evolution, this is probably the best planetary system we know of,” Lagrange told AFP.

The new planet, called Beta Pictoris C, has a mass nine times larger than Jupiter and takes 1,200 days to complete its orbit, as does Beta Pictoris B, which is the first exoplanet of this system, discovered in 2009. However, Beta Pictoris C is approximately three times closer to the star they both orbit.

The presence of the new celestial body was determined after analyzing more than ten years of data obtained through the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) high precision spectrograph, installed on the European ESO telescope of the La Silla Astronomical Observatory in Chile.

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In addition, the study indicates that more data will be needed to make more accurate estimates of Beta Pictoris C characteristics as well as system dynamics.

Scientists hope to gain new information about the planet from data from the European Space Agency’s astronomy Gaia space mission, as well as from the future Extremely Large Telescope being built.

Beta Pictoris has fascinated astronomers for the past thirty years by allowing us to observe a planetary system during its development process around a star.

Located in the southern constellation of Pictor — “The Painter’s Easel” — Beta Pictoris is the second brightest star in its constellation.

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