Exoplanet β Pic b orbiting β Pictoris

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A series of images taken between November 2013 to April 2015 with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) on the Gemini South telescope in Chile shows the exoplanet β Pic b orbiting the star β Pictoris, which lies over 60 light-years from Earth. In the images, the star is at the centre of the left-hand edge of the frame; it is hidden by the Gemini Planet Imager’s coronagraph. We are looking at the planet’s orbit almost edge-on; the planet is closer to the Earth than the star. The images are based on observations described in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, 16 September 2015 and whose lead author is Maxwell Millar-Blanchaer. GPI is a groundbreaking instrument that was developed by an international team led by Stanford University’s Prof. Bruce Macintosh (a U of T alumnus) and the University of California Berkeley’s Prof. James Graham (former director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, U of T). Image credit: M. Millar-Blanchaer, University of Toronto; F. Marchis, SETI Institute

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