TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Over the past few years astronomers have been discovering hundreds of planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way. Earlier this month, the University of Toronto released a video made from a series of images showing a planet, Beta Pictoris b, orbiting a star 63 light years away from Earth. According to Earthsky.com, the images were taken between November 2013 and April 2015. Here is the video:
The 18 month span during which these images were captured are only a small part of the planet's orbit, as it takes about 22 Earth years for the planet to make a full revolution around the star.
Beta Pictoris b is a gas giant that is roughly 10 to 12 times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits around its parent star at about the same distance that Saturn orbits our sun.
This discovery is unique, as most stars discovered to date have been found using the Kepler space telescope to look for changes in a star's brightness as planets pass in front of them, known as the transit method.
A handful have also been discovered using the Doppler wobble method, which involves detecting small changes in the motion of a star caused by the gravitational pull of the orbiting planet.
Beta Pictoris b was discovered using direct imaging, meaning that we are actually seeing the planet itself, and not just fluctuations in the light or movement of the star. The observations were taken from the Gemini South telescope in Chile, pictured below courtesy of Earthsky.com.