eso9855 — Science Release
Extrasolar Planet in Double Star System Discovered from La Silla
24 November 1998: During the past three years, about fifteen planetary companions have been discovered in orbits around dwarf stars. They have revealed to astrophysicists a broad diversity of planetary systems at other stars. Giant planets with masses ranging from half to several times the mass of Jupiter, the largest planet in our own solar system, have been detected with various telescopes. The orbital periods range from 3.1 to 1650 days; while some of the orbits are of circular shape, others are very elongated. The observed diversity naturally raises questions about how these exoplanets are formed. Now, following only a few months of observations, a Swiss team of astronomers , working with a new Swiss astronomical facility at the ESO La Silla Observatory mainly dedicated to the search for exoplanets, has made its first planetary detection. It is a massive planet moving in an almost circular orbit around a nearby star that is itself the primary component of a double star system.