Nasa Captures Stunning X-Ray Evidence Of Exoplanet Eclipse (PICTURES)


Nasa has managed to take an X-ray image of an eclipse occurring in a star system more than 63 light years from Earth.

The picture is the first time that X-ray observations have detected an exoplanet moving in front of its star.

Nasa's Chandra space observatory managed to take the image, with the help of the European Space Agency's XMM Newton Observatory, thanks to a rare alignment of the planet and its parent star.

But while the artists' impression (below) is dramatic, the actual picture is slightly less intense (see inset). Instead of boiling flames and writing magnetospheres, it was actually observed as a slight dip in X-ray intensity.

The system in question, HD 189733, is orbited by several planets including the pictured world - HD 189733b - which is described as a "hot Jupiter".

It orbits its star more than 30 times closer than the Earth orbits our Sun, flinging around the star ever 2.2 days.

Nasa previously confirmed that the planet was blue, determined by the preferential scattering of blue light by silicate particles in its atmosphere.

Head over to Nasa for more details about the system, and how the image was made. It will be published in the Astrophysical Journal next month.

"Thousands of planet candidates have been seen to transit in only optical light," said Katja Poppenhaeger of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who led the study.

"Finally being able to study one in X-rays is important because it reveals new information about the properties of an exoplanet."

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