Discovery and spectroscopy of the young Jovian planet 51 Eri b with the Gemini Planet Imager

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Science  13 Aug 2015:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac5891

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Directly detecting thermal emission from young extrasolar planets allows measurement of their atmospheric composition and luminosity, which is influenced by their formation mechanism. Using the Gemini Planet Imager, we discovered a planet orbiting the ~20 Myr-old star 51 Eridani at a projected separation of 13 astronomical units. Near-infrared observations show a spectrum with strong methane and water vapor absorption. Modeling of the spectra and photometry yields a luminosity of L/L⦿=1.6-4.0 × 10−6 and an effective temperature of 600-750 K. For this age and luminosity, “hot-start” formation models indicate a mass twice that of Jupiter. This planet also has a sufficiently low luminosity to be consistent with the “cold-start” core accretion process that may have formed Jupiter.

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