Featured Image: First Images of a Substellar Companion in the Hyades

four observations of the newly discovered object

Images of the companion object (circled) taken over the course of a year. The companion object is detected with a signal-to-noise ratio ranging from 10 to 19. Click to enlarge. [Kuzuhara et al. 2022]

Astronomers have photographed a substellar object in orbit around a star in the Hyades, the nearest star cluster to Earth, for the first time. Previous data from the Gaia and Hipparcos satellites showed the Sun-like star HIP 21152 accelerating under the influence of an unseen companion. Now, a team led by Masayuki Kuzuhara (Astrobiology Center of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) has obtained new Subaru and Keck telescope images, shown above and to the right, of HIP 21152 and its surroundings. These images reveal HIP 21152’s companion, which Kuzuhara and collaborators determined to be a 27.8-Jupiter-mass object orbiting the star at a distance of 17.5 au. Spectra of the object suggest that it is a T dwarf with a temperature between 1200K and 1300K. This discovery is exciting for a number of reasons, chief among them the object’s membership in the Hyades cluster; because the age of the cluster is well known, the newly discovered object will provide a useful reference point for studies of how substellar objects evolve over time.


“Direct-imaging Discovery and Dynamical Mass of a Substellar Companion Orbiting an Accelerating Hyades Sun-like Star with SCExAO/CHARIS,” Masayuki Kuzuhara et al 2022 ApJL 934 L18. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ac772f