2020
August
Standard

This star system will never be the Solar System

TYC 8998-760-1 might someday become something like our Sun. Right now, however, the young star is still a few billion years away from that. It’s been around for only about 17 million years. If it were the Sun, there would still be a long time before it would even be able to watch the dinosaurs. Nevertheless, the whippersnapper is still something special: astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) photographed it and found two planets in its orbit.

“Even though astronomers have indirectly detected thousands of planets in our galaxy, only a tiny fraction of these exoplanets have been directly imaged,” says co-author Matthew Kenworthy, an associate professor at the University of Leiden, adding that “direct observations are important in the search for environments that might support life.” The direct imaging of two or more exoplanets around the star is even rarer; only two such systems had been directly observed before, both around stars that differ significantly from our Sun.

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