"By further refining the core accretion model of formation to explain the HR 8799 planets, we may be able to learn more about the formation of planetary systems in general, including our own solar system," Konopacky said.
"We would also like to discover more planets through direct imaging that can be studied at this level of detail," Konopacky added. "We work on a new instrument called the Gemini Planet Imager that is designed to do just this. It will arrive at the Gemini South Telescope in Chile this year, and discover new planets that are both smaller than the HR 8799 planets and closer to their parent star."
Konopacky and her colleagues Travis Barman, Bruce Macintosh and Christian Marois detailed their findings online March 14 in the journal Science.
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