Picture of the Day

Two planets orbit nearby ancient star

An international team of astronomers reports the discovery of two new planets orbiting a very old star that is near to our own sun. One of these planets orbits the star at the right distance to allow liquid water to exist on its surface, a key ingredient to support life. Kapteyn's star, named after the Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn, who discovered it at the end of the 19th century, is the second fastest-moving star in the sky and belongs to the galactic halo, an extended group of stars orbiting our galaxy on very elliptical orbits. With a third of the mass of the sun, this red-dwarf can be seen with an amateur telescope in the southern constellation of Pictor. Kapteyn's star and its planets likely come from a dwarf galaxy now merged with the Milky Way.

Visit Website | Image credit: Victor Robles, James Bullock, and Miguel Rocha at University of California, Irvine, and Joel Primack at University of California, Santa Cruz