Join Donate

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Fomalhaut b, an eccentric directly-imaged exoplanet

Fomalhaut b, an eccentric directly-imaged exoplanet

Click to view full image

NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas

Fomalhaut b, an eccentric directly-imaged exoplanet
This false-color composite image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals the orbital motion of the planet Fomalhaut b. Based on these observations, astronomers calculated that the planet is in a 2,000-year-long, highly elliptical orbit. The planet will appear to cross a vast belt of debris around the star roughly 20 years from now. If the planet's orbit lies in the same plane with the belt, icy and rocky debris in the belt could crash into the planet's atmosphere and produce various phenomena. The black circle at the center of the image blocks out the light from the bright star, allowing reflected light from the belt and planet to be photographed. The Hubble images were taken with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph in 2010 and 2012.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

Original image data dated on or about May 1, 2012

Explore related images: astronomy and astrophysics spacecraft, Hubble Space Telescope, pretty pictures, extrasolar planets

Comments & Sharing
More Images
astronaut on Phobos
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

Bruce Murray and Carl Sagan
Pretty Pictures

Support the Bruce Murray Space Image Library and help us share the wonders of other worlds.

Donate