Planet discovered outside solar system

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Abstract

Astronomers have reported the discovery of a planet orbiting a star outside our solar system, which, if verified, would be the first time that a direct observation has been made. Using a relatively new technique called speckle interferometry, astronomers from the University of Arizona and the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) have identified what they believe to be a planet similar to Jupiter, but with a much larger mass, orbiting the star Van Biesbroeck 8 (VB 8), which is located some 21 light-years from earth in the Milky Way constellation Ophiuchus. Confirmation of this discovery, says the National Science Foundation, “would climax a centuries-old quest to find such a body.”

Another group of astronomers from the U.S. Naval Observatory, however, says the object orbiting VB 8 cannot be classified as a planet but fits the definition of a Brown Dwarf. According to the Naval Observatory, “Brown Dwarfs are loosely defined as objects too low in mass to be undergoing thermonuclear fusion, and hence cannot be called stars, and yet massive enough to be generating energy on their own.”