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The planet beta Pictoris b orbiting around its star on a 13 years timescale

5 décembre 2017, par Anthony Boccaletti

beta Pictoris is a star in the southern hemisphere more massive and much younger than the Sun. The star is surrounded by a dust disk resulting from the collision of asteroid-like objects. This disk, seen edge-on, is not perfectly straight and feature a "warp" which soon as been attributed to the presence of a giant planet on a inclined orbit. This planet was finally detected in 2009 (Lagrange et al.) and then confirmed in 2010. The regular monitoring of this system allows to constrain the orbital properties of the planet.
The animation shows various images obtained between 2003 and 2016.
The orbit of the planet is not perfectly coplanar with the disk but inclined by a few degrees hence generating the famous "warp" asymmetry. The planet moves from its discovery position in 2003 at the top left towards the rediscovery position in 2009 (at the bottom right). In 13 years, beta Pic b has gone through nearly 3/4 of its orbit. The observations with SPHERE have started in December 2014 and stopped in November 2016 because the planet was too close from the star to be detected. SPHERE will be tracking the emergence of the planet on the other side of the star in 2018.