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Distant point of light may not have been a planet after all

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11:17am, January 26, 2012

In 2008, astronomers snapped what they claimed was the first actual picture of an exoplanet. The Hubble Space Telescope image showed a pinpoint of light orbiting a star called Fomalhaut approximately 25 light-years from Earth.

Now, a different team of scientists spying on the presumed planet, dubbed Fomalhaut b, with the Spitzer Space Telescope suggests that the bright dot in the original image isn’t a planet at all. Though the team isn’t sure what the dot is, the point of light doesn’t appear to radiate at the infrared wavelengths where exoplanets should, a team led by Markus Janson of Princeton University reports in a paper posted online January 24 at arXiv.org.

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