Rogue planetary orbit for Fomalhaut b

This false-colour composite image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals the orbital motion of the planet Fomalhaut b. Based on these observations, astronomers calculated that the planet is in a 2000-year-long, highly elliptical orbit. The planet will appear to cross a vast belt of debris around the star roughly 20 years from now. If the planet's orbit lies in the same plane with the belt, icy and rocky debris in the belt could crash into the planet's atmosphere and produce various phenomena. The black circle at the centre of the image blocks out the light from the bright star, allowing reflected light from the belt and planet to be photographed. The Hubble images were taken with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph in 2010 and 2012.


NASA, ESA and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:22 January 2013, 11:26
Size:3000 x 2400 px

About the Object

Name:Fomalhaut b
Type:Milky Way : Star : Circumstellar Material : Planetary System

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.9 MB
Screensize JPEG
497.7 KB

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