EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Gas giant exoplanet. Artwork of a gas giant planet orbiting close to its star. The planet is passing in front of the star, an alignment known as a transit. For large planets, a transit of the parent star causes a small but detectable dimming of the star. This artwork is based on the SWEEPS (Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search) survey, which used the Hubble Space Telescope to look at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Two of sixteen candidate stars were then confirmed as having exoplanets by Very Large Telescope observation of gravitational wobbling. This is SWEEPS-04 (mass under 3.8 Jupiters, orbit of 4.2 days, stellar mass is 1.25 Suns). It is around 6500 light years from Earth.
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