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First photo of planet around alien star
Skymania ^ | 9/15/08 | Paul Sutherland

Posted on 09/15/2008 4:41:30 AM PDT by LibWhacker

Astronomers believe they have taken the first amazing photo of a planet around another star like the Sun. The alien world shows up as a tiny orange disk in the image captured by Canadian scientists with a giant telescope in Hawaii.

Previous pictures of so-called extrasolar planets orbiting other stars have been painted by artists.

The new world was spotted 500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, the scorpion. Astronomers were puzzled by its distance from its parent star which is 330 times further than we are from the sun.

But they carried out detective work with other techniques to confirm that the planet and the star lie at roughly the same distance from us and so are probably connected.

Before now, the only planet-like bodies imaged outside the solar system have been floating freely or been circling brown dwarfs, which are thought to be stars that failed to ignite.

Special equipment fitted to the Gemini North Telescope, called adaptive optics, was used to remove distortions caused by turbulence in the atmosphere that would have hidden the planet from view.

That gave the astronomers a clear image of a world which would otherwise have been invisible because of the star's twinkling. It is thought to be about eight times the mass, or size, of Jupiter, biggest planet in our own solar system.

The star has the catchy name of 1RXS J160929.1-210524 and lies in a cluster of relatively young stars called the Upper Scorpius association.

"This is the first time we have directly seen a planetary mass object in a likely orbit around a star like our Sun," said David Lafrenicre, lead author of a paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Colleague Ray Jayawardhana said: "This discovery is yet another reminder of the truly remarkable diversity of worlds out there."

More than 200 extrasolar planets have been found since the first was detected in the early 1990s. Last year one was discovered in a star's so-called habitable region, or Goldilocks zone, raising the possibility that it could be home to life.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: alien; photo; planet; star

1 posted on 09/15/2008 4:41:30 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

2 posted on 09/15/2008 4:44:25 AM PDT by Crazieman (McWhatever-Palin '08)
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To: LibWhacker

Planet Red X?


3 posted on 09/15/2008 4:44:59 AM PDT by OSHA (framing it as though you've magically neutralized any potential negative eventuality)
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To: LibWhacker

“Scientists report they can also see a sign reading “Unverse for Obama” on the planet’s surface.


4 posted on 09/15/2008 4:46:13 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Sarah Palin--the man Biden and Obama wish they could be.)
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To: LibWhacker
the truly remarkable diversity of worlds out there
Like the Canadians. A truly diverse group.
5 posted on 09/15/2008 4:46:50 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: Crazieman

Pretty neat picture. More like a failed binary star, however. That “planet” is very large and very far from the primary star.


6 posted on 09/15/2008 4:47:22 AM PDT by rockprof
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To: OSHA

Planet Biden ?


7 posted on 09/15/2008 4:47:27 AM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM .53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no GOD.)
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To: LibWhacker

Eight times the mass of Jupiter = a brown dwarf?


8 posted on 09/15/2008 4:49:54 AM PDT by agere_contra (When it came time to decide on Christ's fate, Pilate voted 'present' - FReeper mkmensinger)
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To: LibWhacker

Is this the home planet of Dennis Kucinich? Or is his planet further away?

Thanks for the story!


9 posted on 09/15/2008 4:50:07 AM PDT by navyguy (Some days you are the pigeon, some days you are the statue.)
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To: OSHA

Hmmm, that’s weird. It shows up okay in my browser. Guess they don’t like us deeplinking... Check out the article and click on that picture for the large version (the one I tried to post).


10 posted on 09/15/2008 4:51:43 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Crazieman

Vulcan?


11 posted on 09/15/2008 4:54:39 AM PDT by Slapshot68
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To: LibWhacker
This is sooooooooooooo very, very cool! Thanks for posting this!

However, upon closer examination, I think Madison Avenue was already there. ;D


12 posted on 09/15/2008 4:54:54 AM PDT by Daffynition (Follow the dots: Davis, Ayers, Dohrn, Malley, Soros … use a RED crayon.)
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To: LibWhacker
Special equipment fitted to the Gemini North Telescope, called adaptive optics, was used to remove distortions caused by turbulence in the atmosphere that would have hidden the planet from view.

Weren't adaptive optics developed to keep an SDI laser collimated as it traveled through the atmosphere?
13 posted on 09/15/2008 5:01:46 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: Crazieman
The new world was spotted 500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius, the scorpion. Astronomers were puzzled by its distance from its parent star which is 330 times further than we are from the sun.

330 AU and a browndwarf .... that's almost a binary start system but still. Kind of neat. Probably has dueterium fusion going on at the heart of the planet though.

14 posted on 09/15/2008 5:08:44 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (McCain/Palin 2008 : Palin the Paladin 2012)
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To: LibWhacker

Captain Kirk got laid there...


15 posted on 09/15/2008 5:09:21 AM PDT by LRS (NO DRILLING; NO PEACE!)
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To: agere_contra
Very close to that mass, isn't it?

What blows me away is its distance. Never expected our first photo of a planet orbiting another star would be of one so far away! Thought it would be of one of our "next door" neighbors.

To your knowledge, is this the first photo that resolves an alien star's disk? If so, I had no idea they could do that either! (Perhaps a little skepticism is in order until this claim is confirmed?)

16 posted on 09/15/2008 5:11:57 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: aruanan

Not sure. Very possibly. Another example of military tech trickling up to benefit science!


17 posted on 09/15/2008 5:14:50 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: Crazieman

Why wouldn’t the Hubble pick this up better?


18 posted on 09/15/2008 5:17:14 AM PDT by chopperman
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To: chopperman

I believe Hubble’s broken right now, waiting for a shuttle mission to fix it.


19 posted on 09/15/2008 5:18:21 AM PDT by Crazieman (McWhatever-Palin '08)
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To: LibWhacker

20 posted on 09/15/2008 5:19:02 AM PDT by Red Badger (If you're not part of the solution, then you must be part of the government............)
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To: LibWhacker

This is good news for Hollywood elites and other liberals looking for someplace to go, after the elections.


21 posted on 09/15/2008 5:19:19 AM PDT by G Larry (Our VP has more executive experience than B.O.)
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To: Crazieman

If the mass of the star is the same as the sun’s, the orbital period would be about 6,000 years, so it would take a long time to see any change in the relative orientation of the two bodies, about sixteen years for one degree of orbital motion.

What impresses me is the dynamic range of the sensor. If the smaller body has about the same density and reflectivity as Jupiter, the brightness of the two objects differs by about fourteen orders of magnitude (100000000000000x). For comparison, the dimmest naked eye stars differ in brightness from the sun by about thirteen orders of magnitude. This is like photographing a dim star next to the sun.

The spot size of the star is obviously limited by diffraction, the outter edges of the image demarcating the point were the diffraction pattern drops into the noise. It’s an amazing picture.


22 posted on 09/15/2008 5:21:15 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Chicken counting time starts Nov. 5.)
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To: LibWhacker
I couldn't find a cite, but I know they have been routinely imaging alien solar disks for a few years. I recall seeing images of the disks of Betelguese and Antares many years ago. They even imaged a sunspot on Betelguese.

I believe the instrument used was the Keck telescope. Not sure anymore, though.

23 posted on 09/15/2008 5:25:50 AM PDT by jboot (Let Christ be true and every man a liar.)
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To: LibWhacker
It is thought to be about eight times the mass, or size, of Jupiter

Mass, or size? I don't think they really want to equate mass and size.

24 posted on 09/15/2008 5:31:31 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault ("..this administration is planning a 'Right Wing Assault' on values and ideals.." - John Kerry)
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To: LRS
Captain Kirk got laid there...

Where didn't Captain Kirk get laid?

25 posted on 09/15/2008 5:56:10 AM PDT by The Duke (I have met the enemy, and he is named 'Apathy'!)
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To: LibWhacker
Hold on . . . I've always been interested in the cosmos but -

Astronomers (and astrologers) have been looking "out there" for centuries and more - and we've JUST NOW found what we hope is another planet???

There are so many stars it defies any attempt to count them and we can't find a single planet outside our solar system (until now - if this is really a planet)??? Dang, just dang.

We can split atoms but can't find a planet. No offense to those in the field but, man, I'm glad I didn't go into astronomy - sounds depressingly slow.

26 posted on 09/15/2008 6:43:56 AM PDT by DesertSapper (God, Family, Country . . . . . . . . . . and dead terrorists!!!)
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To: Red Badger

LOL!


27 posted on 09/15/2008 7:04:10 AM PDT by ctdonath2 (The average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. - Ratatouille)
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To: Darkwolf377
“Scientists report they can also see a sign reading “Universe for Obama” on the planet’s surface.

Haha! That's funny, I don't care who you are!

28 posted on 09/15/2008 7:19:32 AM PDT by feedback doctor (The first female president will be a Conservative Republican)
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To: DesertSapper
This isn't the first extra-solar planet that's been found, but it is the first one that's been photographed.

Finding or photographing, is a veeeeeeeeery, veeeeeeeery difficult problem given the immense distances and feeble light reflected in our direction by these planets.

It's going to get real exciting in coming years as there are now enormous telescopes on the drawing board that'll actually allow us to see surface details on earth-sized planets out to several hundred light years.

So if you're glad you didn't go into astronomy before now, but are looking for an exciting career change, now would be the time to make the switch!

It's not going to be slow much longer. In fact, it's picking up very nicely as we speak. :-)

29 posted on 09/15/2008 11:28:44 AM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: The Duke; LRS
Where didn't Captain Kirk get laid?

Do you really want an answer to that?!!

30 posted on 09/15/2008 5:28:17 PM PDT by uglybiker (1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d 2 g3t l41d)
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