An exoplanet 320 light-years from Earth has been found in a trinary star system, photographed by the ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile. Aside from having the distinction of being one of mere handful of exoplanets that have been directly imaged, the planet, labeled as HD 131399Ab, has a year that lasts 550 Earth years, as it orbits the large central star.
On top of that, the other two stars in the system share an orbit farther out, so for approximately 100 to 140 Earth years, all three suns contribute to a state of perpetual daylight on HD 131399Ab. "With three suns, the planet will see different weird combinations of sunrises and sunsets," remarks University of Arizona astronomer Daniel Apai. "This is a system for which I would not want to design a calendar."
Somewhat closer to home, a new dwarf planet has been discovered in the far reaches our solar system’s Kuiper Belt, a region beyond Neptune’s orbit that is home to icy primordial debris left over from the formation of the Solar System. The new planetoid, designated 2015 RR245, is estimated to be only 700 km (435 miles) in diameter, and has a long orbital period, taking 700 years to make its journey around the Sun. The find was made in February of this year by the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS), using images made by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawai’i in September of 2015.
Even closer to home (sort of), the Juno space probe made a successful orbital insertion around Jupiter on July 4, and has transmitted its first images of the Jovian neighborhood back to Earth. Juno is scheduled to make its first high-resolution images of our solar system’s largest planet on August 27, when its orbit takes it close to Jupiter’s cloud tops.
"This scene from JunoCam indicates [the camera] survived its first pass through Jupiter’s extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter," according to Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, referring to an image snapped by Juno. "We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles."
- By ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser: This artist's impression shows a view of the triple-star system HD 131399... image via Wikimedia Commons
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