Skip to comments.Star of the Week: Fomalhaut had first visible exoplanet
Posted on 09/26/2012 6:25:23 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Fomalhaut is sometimes called the Loneliest Star. Its planet Fomalhaut b was the first beyond our solar system to be visible to the human eye.
The star Fomalhaut -- an autumn star for the Northern Hemisphere, sometimes called the Loneliest Star -- holds a special place in the search for planets beyond our solar system. Orbiting Fomalhaut is the first extrasolar planet visible to the eye in photographic images. By 2008, when Fomalhaut's planet became visible, we knew other planets were out there, orbiting distant suns. But, prior to the images of Fomalhaut b, all extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, made their presence known indirectly, for example, in some instances, by their gravitational tugging on their stars.
Fomalhaut was also one of the first stars known to have a disk of dust around it, a sign that more planets might be forming there...
Does Fomalhaut have other planets in addition to Fomalhaut b? In 2012, astronomers announced the possibility of two low-mass planets orbiting this star.
As determined by an analysis of its light, Fomalhaut is classified as an A3V star. It's considerably hotter and heavier than our sun, as indicated by the "A3." Imagine you could place our sun and Fomalhaut side by side in space -- say, at 10 parsecs or 32.6 light-years away. In that case, Fomalhaut would outshine our sun in visible light by nearly 17 times. The "V" in Fomalhaut's classification is called a luminosity class, and it designates the largest category of all, ordinary stars like our sun in the mature and stable part of their life spans.
(Excerpt) Read more at earthsky.org ...
This image shows the debris ring around Fomalhaut and the location of its first known planet. This is the actual discovery image -- published in the journal Science in November 2008. Fomalhaut b was the first beyond our solar system visible to the eye in photographic images. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
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Way cool! ............................... FRegards