Hubble Watches Massive Exoplanet Stir Stellar Dust

February 20, 2015 7:23 PM

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Owed to its long-duration mission, Hubble can spot short-duration changes in celestial objects, revealing unprecedented detail in an otherwise ‘unchanging’ sky. Take Beta Pictoris for example. This 20 million year-old star sports an extensive edge-on protoplanetary disk and Hubble has been watching motion in this dust, stirred up by the presence of a massive exoplanet.

This is yet another cosmic first for the veteran space telescope; astronomers have been able to compare Hubble observations of Beta Pictoris 1997 and 2012 and would therefore be able to track any morphological changes in its protoplanetary disk.

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