Is this the first picture of an alien planet in orbit around a sun just like ours?

Posted on 1:50 PM by Sameer Shah

Scientists believe they have taken the first picture of a planet orbiting a star similar to the sun.

The distant world is giant (about eight times the mass of Jupiter) and lies far out from its star (about 330 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun).

But for all the planet's strangeness, its star is quite like our own sun.

Previously, the only planets outside the solar system to be photographed have belonged to tiny, dim stars known as brown dwarfs.

And while hundreds of exoplanets have been detected by noting their gravitational tug on their parent stars, it is rare to find one large enough to image directly.

Images of the young star and what is thought to be its companion planet have been taken by astronomers from the University of Toronto using the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

National Geographic News reports that they note that they aren't sure whether the body is really a planet or some other type of planet-like object, and it remains to be seen if it is truly orbiting the star.

In their paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists David Lafreniere, Ray Jayawardhana and Marten H. Van Kerkwijk say: ‘If gravitationally bound, this would be the lowest mass companion imaged around a normal star thus far, and its existence at such a large separation would pose a serious challenge to theories of star and planet formation.’

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