Share

News Release Archive:

News Release 340 of 948

October 4, 2006 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-34

Hubble Finds Extrasolar Planets Far Across Galaxy

Back

Image: Hubble Exoplanet Search Field in Sagittarius

Hubble Exoplanet Search Field in SagittariusSTScI-PRC2006-34a

Screen-use options: These files are created for viewing on your monitor

Print-use download options: These files are designed to fit on letter-size paper


ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

This is an image of one-half of the Hubble Space Telescope field of view in the Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search (SWEEPS). The field contains approximately 150,000 stars, down to 30th magnitude. The stars in the Galactic disk and bulge have a mixture of colors and masses. The field is so crowded with stars because Hubble was looking across 26,000 light-years of space in the direction of the center of our galaxy.

Half of these stars are bright enough for Hubble to monitor for any small, brief and periodic dips in brightness caused by the passage of an exoplanet passing in front of the star, an event called a transit. Hubble took approximately 520 pictures of this field, at red and blue wavelengths, from Feb. 22-29, 2004. The green circles identify 9 stars that are orbited by planets with periods of a few days. Planets so close to their stars with such short orbital periods are called "hot Jupiters."

These are considered "candidate" exoplanets because most of them are too faint to allow for spectroscopic observations that would allow for a precise measure of the planet's mass. The Hubble observations allow for a robust statistical estimate of the possible "false positives," which suggests that at least 45 percent of the candidates must be genuine planets.

The bottom frame identifies one of two stars in the field where astronomers were able to spectroscopically measure the star's back-and-forth wobble due to the pull of the planet. The planet turns out to be less than 3.8 Jupiter masses.

The members of the SWEEPS science team are Kailash C. Sahu, Stefano Casertano, Howard E. Bond, Jeff Valenti, T. Ed Smith, Mario Livio, Nino Panagia, Thomas M. Brown, Will Clarkson and Stephen Lubow (Space Telescope Science Institute), Dante Minniti and Manuela Zoccali (Universidad Catolica de Chile), Nikolai Piskunov (Uppsala University), Timothy Brown (High Altitude Observatory), Alvio Renzini (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova), and R. Michael Rich (University of California at Los Angeles).

Object Name: SWEEPS Field

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Sahu (STScI) and the SWEEPS Science Team

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

SWEEPS ACS/WFC Color Composite Image Type: Astronomical SWEEPS ACS/WFC Color Composite Detail of SWEEPS ACS/WFC Color Composite Image Type: Astronomical Detail of SWEEPS ACS/WFC Color Composite

All images from this news release:

To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: