Over the past four years, the instrument attached to the telescope in the Chilean Andes, the Gemini Planet Imager was staring at 531 star in search of new planets. And here is the team who worked with him, published in Astronomical Journal the initial results of the study, which captured three of six planets and a brown dwarf orbiting 300 stars. And what a very strange and interesting conclusions reached by scientists.
“Over the past twenty years, astronomers have discovered all these solar systems that are really different from ours,” says Bruce Macintosh, Professor of physics at Stanford University. “The question we want to understand ultimately is: are there populated, Earth-like planet? And one way to answer it is to understand how others are formed in the solar system.
Unlike other methods of finding planets, which rely on finding signs of the planet — such as the influence of its gravity on the parent star, not the planet itself — the Gemini Planet Imager makes images straight, snatching the planet from dim to bright light of a star a million times brighter.
“The giant planets in our own Solar system are 5 to 30 times farther than Earth, and for the first time, we investigated similar region near other stars,” says lead author Erik Nielsen, a researcher from the Institute Kavli.
Most of the other search methods explore the inner solar system. But Gemini Planet Imager particularly focuses on extrasolar planets that are large, young and are far from the star around which revolve.
In our Solar system the giant planets are in the outer part of it. But although Gemini Planet Imager is one of the most sensitive seekers of the planets, still remain objects that elude his perception, and the planet that the team can see at present, must be two times the size of Jupiter.
In the first part of the study, the researchers found exoplanets smaller than expected. However, the exoplanet was found, showed something interesting: each of the six planets revolved around the big one, despite the fact that such planets are easier to find near faint stars.
This suggests that giant planets with wide orbits are more common around stars with a large mass at least 1.5 times more massive than the Sun. Meanwhile, stars like our own, not so often store older brothers Jupiter as small planets that are discovered close to their stars during missions like “Kepler”.
“Given what we and other scientists have seen so far, our Solar system is not like other solar systems,” says McIntosh. “We have not so many planets Packed so close to the Sun, like other stars, and now we have preliminary evidence that we may be rare and on the other side of the range.”
Although exoplanets the size of Jupiter are beyond the reach of their instruments, can’t find even a hint of something similar to Jupiter among 300 stars, leaves open the possibility that our Jupiter is special.
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