Western astronomers are involved in milestone extra-solar planet discovery

New Jupiter sized planet discovered in 51 Eridani system

The Kepler Space Telescope sees extra-solar planets by way of their shadow.

The Gemini Planet Imager sees their glow.

Professor Stanimir Metchev and his research group were co-investigators on an international effort that yielded the faintest and coldest planet ever discovered by the method of direct imaging.  Principal investigator is Dr. Bruce MacIntosh at Stanford University. Named 51 Eridani b, this should be the first of many new extra-solar planets to be found by the new Gemini Planet Imager.

Also involved are Stan Metchev's group members Juan Sebastian Bruzzone (PhD candidate at Western) and Rahul Patel (PhD candidate at Stony Brook University).

The 51 Eridani system is interesting for many reasons.  Metchev’s team had previously discovered signs of an existing asteroid belt, while the Herschel space telescope has seen evidence of a cometary belt.  Thus, this young 20 million years old planetary system already has more than a passing resemblance with our own solar system.

The discovery has been published in the current issue of Science magazine.

[Western Media Relations article]

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