First-Ever Photo of a Solar System Like Ours

Images of exoplanets are extremely uncommon, but even more rare is an image of such a planet as part of a greater solar system like ours. Astronomers, however, have just shared one such photo captured by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. The picture of TYC 8998-760-1, located approximately 300 light years from Earth, reveals “a Sun-like star, orbited by multiple exoplanets.” This set-up is remarkably similar to our system within the Milky Way (where the Sun is orbited by planets, dwarf planets, many moons, and millions of asteroids, comets and meteoroids). It’s also inherently different. The sun in the image is described as a “very young version of our own” (at 17 million years old) and is orbited by “gas giants” (like Jupiter or Saturn) that are “320 times the distance we are from the Sun.” Despite the differences, the similarities prove to be fascinating, with lead researcher Alexander Bohn explaining, “The possibility that future instruments, such as those available on the ELT, will be able to detect even lower-mass planets around this star marks an important milestone in understanding multi-planet systems, with potential implications for the history of our own Solar System.” Read more at The Independent.

Image courtesy European Southern Observatory and Alexander Bohn