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News Release 198 of 243

January 17, 1996 08:30 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1996-02

Disk around Star May Be Warped by Unseen Planet

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 17, 1996: The Hubble telescope has provided strong evidence for the existence of a roughly Jupiter-sized planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris.

Detailed Hubble snapshots of the inner region of the 200-billion-mile-wide dust disk encircling the star reveal an unexpected warp. Researchers say the warp can be best explained as caused by the tug of an unseen planet. This is a visible-light image of the disk, which looks like a spindle because it is tilted nearly edge-on to our view. The bright star, which lies at the center of the disk, is blocked out in this image.

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Credit: Chris Burrows, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) the European Space Agency (ESA), J. Krist (STScI), the WFPC2 IDT team, and NASA