2M1207b - First image of an exoplanet

This composite image shows an exoplanet (the red spot on the lower left), orbiting the brown dwarf 2M1207 (center). 2M1207 b is the first exoplanet directly imaged and the first discovered orbiting a brown dwarf.

It was imaged for the first time in 2004 by the Very Large Telescope (VLT), operated by the European Southern Observatory in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Its planetary identity and characteristics were confirmed after one year of observations in 2005. 2M1207 b is a Jupiter-like planet, 5 times more massive than Jupiter. It orbits the brown dwarf at a distance 55 times larger than the Earth to the Sun, nearly twice as far as Neptune is from the Sun.

The system 2M1207 is 230 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Hydra. The photo is based on three near-infrared exposures (in the H, K and L wavebands) with the NACO adaptive-optics facility at the 8.2-m VLT Yepun telescope at the ESO Paranal Observatory.

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