HOUSTON, we have a visual.

The first planet ever found orbiting a star outside the solar system has recently been photographed.

First discovered in 2004, planet 2M1207b orbiting its sun in the constellation Hydra (about 200 light years away), was photographed by the Very Large Telescope of the Paranal Observatory in Chile last April 30.

A gas giant, the planet orbits its sun at a distance of about five billion miles, or roughly twice the distance Neptune orbits the sun.

A glimpse of the planet was seen as a “faint reddish speck of light” together with its sun named 2M1207a, a brown dwarf.

“The two objects—the giant planet and the young brown dwarf—are moving together. We have observed them for a year, and the new images essentially confirm our 2004 finding,” said Benjamin Zuckerman, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) official.

According to College of Science professor Dr. Augusto Morales, Jr. of the Department of Mathematics and Physics, it is only now that astronomers were able to confirm that the heavenly body discovered last year is a planet, not a moon, or an asteroid.

“If the object is too small and doesn’t have an orbit, it’s probably a comet or asteroid. If the object orbits around another object which isn’t a star, then it’s a moon or a satellite. Now, if the object is sufficiently large, and has a definite orbit around a star, then it is a planet. Its image (2M1207b) suggests it is a planet,” Morales said. Marie Ghiselle V. Villorente with reports from Laurence John R. Morales

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