Astronomers Directly Image Giant Planet-Like Object around Sun-Like Star

Using three instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), an international team of astronomers has discovered and imaged a giant sub-stellar object — a giant planet or a brown dwarf — around the very young, Sun-like star TYC 8998-760-1.

This SPHERE image shows TYC 8998-760-1b. Image credit: Bohn et al, doi: 10.1093/mnras/stz3462.

TYC 8998-760-1 is a K3-type star located 309 light-years away in the small southern constellation of Musca.

Also known as 2MASS J13251211-6456207, the star is about the same mass as our Sun, but is only 16.7 million years old.

ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT)

This means that its newly-imaged companion, dubbed TYC 8998-760-1b, formed only recently.

The object is 3 times the size of our Jupiter and about 14 times more massive.

It has an estimated surface temperature of about 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,600 degrees Fahrenheit) and likely has a highly inflated atmosphere.

“TYC 8998-760-1b is among the youngest and least massive companions that are directly detected around solar-type stars,” said Leiden Observatory astronomer Alexander Bohn and his colleagues from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United States.

These images from VLT’s SPHERE and NaCo instruments show the TYC 8998-760-1 system; proper motion analysis proves that all objects north of the star are background (bg) stars, while the object south-west of TYC 8998-760-1 (highlighted by the white arrow) is co-moving with its host. Image credit: Bohn et al, doi: 10.1093/mnras/stz3462.

The discovery is part of the Young Suns Exoplanet Survey (YSES) of 70 young, solar-mass stars located in the Lower Centaurus-Crux subgroup of the Scorpius-Centaurus association.

The researchers were able to directly image TYC 8998-760-1b using VLT’s SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research) and NaCo (Nasmyth Adaptive Optics System/Near-Infrared Imager and Spectrograph) instruments.

They also analyzed medium-resolution data on TYC 8998-760-1 collected by VLT’s X-SHOOTER spectrograph.

“The discovery of TYC 8998-760-1b opens many pathways for future ground and space-based characterization of the solar-like environment at a very early stage of its evolution,” the scientists said.

Their paper was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.