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Friday, December 4, 2009

First extrasolar planet ever imaged

This certainly deserves an entry here: for the first time ever, human eyes, aided with telescopes, have been able to image directly what seems to be a planet (or probably two) orbiting a star other than the Sun. We had detected them before by the slight decay of luminosity when a planet passes before its sun but never before had a planet outside the Solar System been taken a photo.

This is an extremely important event in space exploration. Never before now human eyes could see something like this:

The star GJ758 is artificially occulted at the center of the image (though it's light obviously hides most of its vicinity anyhow) and the possible planets are circled and tagged with the corresponding letter. They might be brown dwarves or hot Jupiters, otherwise we'd probably would not be able to see them.

C. Thalmann et al., Discovery of the Coldest Imaged Companion of a Sun-Like Star.

Found originally via Science Daily. Image credit: Max Planck Institute for Astronomy/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

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