News Release Archive:

News Release 456 of 1051

August 8, 2006 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-38

Hubble Identifies Stellar Companion to Distant Planet


Image: Identification of Exoplanet Host Star

Identification of Exoplanet Host Star

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

Highest-quality download options: The best resolution available


[bottom left text]
Hubble Space telescope observed and identified the host star to a gravitationally lensed planet first discovered in 2003 by ground-based telescopes.

[left box]
A foreground red star and planet drifts toward the sky position of a much farther sunlike background star.

In 2003, the foreground star-planet system slightly amplifies the light of a background star that momentarily aligns with it. This is called a microlensing event.

[right box]
The light from each star is progressively more offset year after year as the foreground star drifts by.

[bottom right box]
In 2005, Hubble Space Telescope observations distinguished the light from the two stars. This was possible because the foreground star turns out to be a different color from the background star. By observing the stars though a red and blue filter, astronomers were able to enhance the visibility of the offset. The relative offset is 0.7 milliarcseconds (the angular width of a dime seen 3,000 miles away) from the source star. (This is below Hubble's resolution, but still a measurable effect.) The deduced positions of the two stars in 2005 are shown with red and blue crosshatches.

Image Type: Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Feild (STScI), D. Bennett (University of Notre Dame), and J. Anderson (Rice University)


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: