MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alien planet. Artwork of the alien planet HD 209458b with its parent star (HD 209458). This planet was detected as it transited (passed in front of) its star, causing a dip in brightness of 1.7%, at the time predicted from orbital calculations. This was the first direct evidence of a planet orbiting another star when it was first observed in 1999. The presence of the planet was detected by observing the wobble its orbit has on the star's motion through space. The planet is around 200 times the mass of Earth, but orbits only 6.5 million kilometres from its star. One orbit takes just 3.5 days. HD 209458 is a Sun-like star which lies 153 light years from Earth.
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