European Telescope Takes First Picture of Another Solar System

The European Southern Observatory on Wednesday released the first image ever captured by a telescope of multiple planets orbiting around a sunlike star.In a statement, the ESO said the image was taken by its Extremely Large Telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert.This image from the European Southern Observatory, July 2020, shows the star TYC 8998-760-1, upper left, and two exoplanets. The image was captured by blocking the light from the star, allowing for the fainter planets to be detected.The researchers who discovered the solar system said it was 300 light-years away, relatively close by galactic standards. They said the star was officially known as TYC 8998-760-1 and located in the Musca constellation (the Fly). They have determined it is barely 17 million years old, compared with our sun, which is believed to be 4.5 billion years old.Research behind the discovery was published Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Lead researcher Alexander Bohn, a doctoral candidate at Leiden University, said what makes the discovery so exciting is that the star is “a very young version of our sun. He said it provides “a snapshot of an environment that is very similar to our solar system but at a much earlier stage of its evolution.”Bohn said the observations can help scientists better understand the evolution of our own solar system. Taking direct images, he said, provides the best chance to detect life outside our solar system, if it exists.He said that in observing light from the planets themselves, “the atmospheres can be analyzed for molecules and elements that might suggest life.”Astronomers typically confirm worlds around other stars by observing brief but periodic dimming of the starlight, indicating an orbiting planet. Such indirect observations have identified thousands of planets in our Milky Way galaxy.The ESO is considered the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by a consortium of European nations and Chile, as well as other member nations.