NASA snaps rare direct photo of a Super-Jupiter planet Kappa Andromedae b

Nov 20, 2012
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NASA snaps rare direct photo of a Super-Jupiter planet Kappa Andromedae b

Typically when NASA discovers a distant planet, as close as we get to seeing that planet is an artist's rendering. NASA has been able to snap a rare direct photo of a planet that has been dubbed a Super-Jupiter. The planet is 13 times more massive than Jupiter, which is the largest planet in our own solar system.

The massive planet orbits a star called Kappa Andromedae, which has a mass 2.5 times that of our Sun. The massive planet and its parent star are 170 light-years away from Earth. The Super-Jupiter planet is so massive that astronomers have placed it on the edge of the classification system between giant planets and failed stars called brown dwarfs.

The official name for the planet is Kappa Andromedae b and researchers believe it likely has a reddish glow. The planet is known as Kappa And b for short. The scientists do say that calling the Super-Jupiter a planet isn't definitive and other considerations could potentially push the object into brown dwarf territory.

The image you see above is a false color, near-infrared 3.8 µ image of the Kappa And system. The light from the host star in the center has been removed through image processing to show Kappa And b in the upper left corner of the image. The image was captured by the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii in July of 2012. The planet orbits its parent star with an orbit wider than Neptune takes around our Sun.

[via Space.com]


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