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News Release 52 of 124

August 8, 2006 01:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2006-38

Hubble Identifies Stellar Companion to Distant Planet

August 8, 2006: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has for the first time identified the parent star of a distant planet (system name OGLE-2003-BLG-235L/MOA-2003-BLG-53L) discovered in 2003 through ground-based gravitational microlensing. Gravitational microlensing occurs when a foreground star amplifies the light of a background star that momentarily aligns with it. Follow-up observations by Hubble in 2005 separated the light of the slightly offset foreground star from the background star. This allowed the host star to be identified as a red dwarf star located 19,000 light-years away. The Hubble observations allow for the planet's mass and the orbit from its parent red star to be determined. In this artist's concept, the rings and moon around the gas giant are hypothetical, but plausible, given the nature of the family of gas giant planets in our solar system.

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