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Astronomers Confident: Planet Beyond Solar System Has Been Photographed
Science.com ^ | 1/10/05 | Robert Roy Britt

Posted on 01/11/2005 5:25:11 PM PST by wagglebee

SAN DIEGO -- Astronomers are highly confident that they've taken the first photograph of a planet outside our solar system.

Make that two photographs.

A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope confirms with a high degree of confidence a picture made previously by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and reported by SPACE.com in September.

The planet -- still just a candidate, actually -- is an odd duck in many respects. It does not orbit a normal star, and it is much more massive than the largest planets in our solar system.

Still, if confirmed, it represents a landmark in astronomy along the road to the ultimate goal of finding and photographing Earth-like planets around other stars.

The Hubble image was released here today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The planet candidate appears to orbit a failed star known as a brown dwarf. The initial observations at ESO's Very Large Telescope could not determine whether the apparent planet was actually at the same distance as the brown dwarf or if it was a background object. The Hubble observations show that the two indeed appear to be travelling together through the sky, suggesting they are gravitationally bound, as originally suspected.

University of Arizona astronomer Glenn Schneider, who led the new study, said he's 99.1 percent sure the object is in orbit around the brown dwarf. He expects to be 99.9 percent sure in April when more Hubble observations are made as the planet presumably moves a bit farther along in its orbit.

"Stay tuned for the final confirmation, but it's looking pretty good," Schneider said.

The planet candidate is about 1.5 times the diameter of Jupiter and about five times as massive. It orbits the brown dwarf star at about 30 percent farther than Pluto is from our Sun. The brown dwarf does not have enough mass to trigger thermonuclear fusion and shine like a normal star, but it is also outside the realm of planethood, being some 25 times more massive than Jupiter and glowing with infrared light.

The setup is about 225 light-years away.

"This is the first image of a planet outside our solar system," said UCLA astronomer Eric Becklin, quickly correcting himself to say it was an image most likely to be of an extrasolar planet. "So we really need to be sure."

Becklin and others eagerly await the April observations.

If confirmed, the finding would have "enormous impact" on the ability of astronomers to get funding for future telescopes that would look for Earth-like planets, said Steve Maran, press officer of the American Astronomical Society.

And what to make of a planet orbiting a failed star? Astronomers are already debating what constitutes a planet and whether the definition should include how they formed versus what they orbit.

Becklin, who was not involved in the imaging, said there is evidence for planets orbiting planets and planets floating alone in space with no star. If the latest image is proved to be what it seems, that would suggest "planets are around a lot of things," he said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: astronomy; hubblespacetelescope; planets; solarsystem; space; universe; xplanets

1 posted on 01/11/2005 5:25:12 PM PST by wagglebee
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To: wagglebee
I am convinced that there are people in other solar systems who have no idea that we even exist. There is a strong possibility also that they discovered beer and wine, grow herbs and spices and most of them have to go to work everyday.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

2 posted on 01/11/2005 5:29:52 PM PST by SamAdams76
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To: wagglebee

Time for people to read Zaceheria Sitchin's "The 12th Planet"


3 posted on 01/11/2005 5:30:28 PM PST by GaryMontana (The future belongs to the bold, not the cowards who hide under rags (ragheads)!)
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To: wagglebee

bttt


4 posted on 01/11/2005 5:30:28 PM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: SamAdams76

Are some of these "people" leftists?


5 posted on 01/11/2005 5:31:32 PM PST by wagglebee (Memo to sKerry: the only thing Bush F'ed up was your career)
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To: SamAdams76
"There is a strong possibility also that they discovered beer and wine, grow herbs and spices and most of them have to go to work everyday.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it."

Agree. . .world(s) without end. . . ;^)

6 posted on 01/11/2005 5:32:48 PM PST by cricket (Just say - NO U.N.)
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To: SamAdams76

Yea i think it is the mother planet of liberals - smoking all the herb hopefully they will realize they have a lost colony here and come back to bring Moore and his ilk home


7 posted on 01/11/2005 5:33:41 PM PST by DM1
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To: wagglebee

The planet candidate (aka Hillary) appears to orbit a failed star known as a brown dwarf (aka known as Bill, the first black president)

Note: edited for content.


8 posted on 01/11/2005 5:34:33 PM PST by Arkie2
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Made in USA

It's busy loading you up with spyware. Just be patient. ;^)


10 posted on 01/11/2005 5:36:17 PM PST by Arkie2
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To: wagglebee
I wish I could say it wasn't so. But I also see many "Volvo" looking cars parked in "gated" communities of those who support "low-income housing" and "rent control" so long as they exist not in close proximity to said gated communities.

As I gaze deeper into my telepathy with said planets, I see "coffee shops" bearing a strong resemblance to Starbucks with a goateed clientele sipping on what appears to be overpriced lattes and yes, they are wearing what appears to be Birkenstocks on their feet. Furthermore, as I strain further, I think I can hear some soft rock-like music being piped into this Starbucks-like coffee shop. What I am hearing closely resembles Steve Winwood or maybe Bruce Hornsby.

I think we are doomed.

11 posted on 01/11/2005 5:41:04 PM PST by SamAdams76
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To: wagglebee

There will be a lawsuit filed within hours claiming tha the residents of this newly discovered planet were disenfranchised in the past election, and that their many many votes should have been counted in Ohio.


12 posted on 01/11/2005 5:44:32 PM PST by Mad Mammoth
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To: Mad Mammoth

"There will be a lawsuit filed within hours claiming tha the residents of this newly discovered planet were disenfranchised in the past election, and that their many many votes should have been counted in Ohio."

ROFLMAO! My first true LOL for the day. Thank you! :)


13 posted on 01/11/2005 5:47:13 PM PST by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: SamAdams76

And they have a warmonger like GWB who is busy destroying the planet's fragile enviornment all while waging war against "misunderstood" dictators.


14 posted on 01/11/2005 5:48:03 PM PST by wagglebee (Memo to sKerry: the only thing Bush F'ed up was your career)
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To: SamAdams76
I am convinced that there are people in other solar systems who have no idea that we even exist.

Duh - it's a near impossibility that ALL the people who live in other solar systems know we exist.

15 posted on 01/11/2005 5:51:20 PM PST by Senator Pardek
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To: SamAdams76

Yes, they're there. And they look just like us and act just like us, except they eat corn with the cob vertical.


16 posted on 01/11/2005 5:56:57 PM PST by wolfpat
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To: wagglebee

Heavenly body and water!

Oh, taxi. Follow that starship!

17 posted on 01/11/2005 5:58:25 PM PST by Young Werther
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To: wagglebee; PatrickHenry
Astronomers can be fun to watch.

Place two rocks in an otherwise empty universe, having relative motion to one another, would they orbit?

Sorry, silly question.

Make it photons.

18 posted on 01/11/2005 6:05:15 PM PST by Tarpaulin (Look it up.)
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To: DM1
Yea i think it is the mother planet of liberals

Yeah, and now that their sun has failed, they're going to want some of ours.
19 posted on 01/11/2005 6:06:42 PM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth...)
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To: wolfpat
"...except they eat corn with the cob vertical."

I want no part of that world.

20 posted on 01/11/2005 6:13:12 PM PST by scott7278 (All your SCOTUS are belong to us!)
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To: wagglebee

BTTT


21 posted on 01/11/2005 6:15:54 PM PST by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: SamAdams76

I think we're alone. If the universe was really swarming with life, then surely, after 16 billion years, there should be enough advanced civilzations that the airwaves would be full of alien versions of Frampton and other noise. We ain't heard squat.


22 posted on 01/11/2005 6:18:16 PM PST by stinkypew
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To: SamAdams76
Who's watching who(m)?

FGS

23 posted on 01/11/2005 6:19:14 PM PST by ForGod'sSake (ABCNNBCBS: An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.)
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To: shaggy eel

We really can't fault ourselves for this one.

I mean, we did our best to hide the stuff...who woulda thunk they'd check OUTSIDE the solar system ?!!

See you at the ship tomorrow bud. Sure hope those drastically reduced for clearance Wal-Mart gaskets work as well as that nice teenaged salesman said they would.


24 posted on 01/11/2005 6:25:57 PM PST by PoorMuttly ("Always carry a firearm east of Aldgate, Watson.")
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To: Made in USA
The site is extreamly slow to download.

Why would you bother?

25 posted on 01/11/2005 6:34:15 PM PST by Cobra64 (Babes should wear Bullet Bras - www.BulletBras.net)
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To: wagglebee

IDIC


26 posted on 01/11/2005 6:37:07 PM PST by Danae (Dip bullets in Pig fat. Terrorist Kryptonite.)
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To: PoorMuttly
Sure hope those drastically reduced for clearance Wal-Mart gaskets work as well as that nice teenaged salesman said they would.

,,, if they don't, he'll be sliced into gaskets for the next option.

27 posted on 01/11/2005 6:46:15 PM PST by shaggy eel
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To: stinkypew
. If the universe was really swarming with life, then surely, after 16 billion years, there should be enough advanced civilzations that the airwaves would be full of alien versions of Frampton and other noise. We ain't heard squat.

The Universe is a big place. It's quite possible that civilizations have been born, sent out those game shows and "I Love Lucy" equivalents, and then died, with the signals still enroute to our little low rent district out in the boonies of a spiral arm of a mildly interesting, but hardly unique, galaxy.

28 posted on 01/11/2005 9:06:51 PM PST by El Gato (Activist Judges can twist the Constitution into anything they want ... or so they think.)
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To: El Gato
out in the boonies of a spiral arm of a mildly interesting, but hardly unique, galaxy.

You forgot < /hitchhikersguide>

29 posted on 01/11/2005 10:17:29 PM PST by NoCmpromiz (The only thing the French do well is wine and cheese, both of which are made better in California.)
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