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November 13, 2008

Sleeping in light

FomalhautB.jpg

The Hubble Space Telescope captures the first image of a planet outside the solar system. Le Monde has a helpful diagram to point out the dot in question: the size of Jupiter, Fomalhaut b is twenty-five light years from Earth.

"I nearly had a heart attack when I confirmed that Fomalhaut b orbits its parent star," said Paul Kalas, a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's a profound and overwhelming experience to lay eyes on a planet never before seen.

"There is plenty of empty space between Fomalhaut b and the star for other planets to happily reside in stable orbits.

"We'll probably have to wait for the James Webb Space Telescope to give us a clear view of the region closer to the star where a planet could host liquid water on the surface."

The James Webb Space Telescope infrared observatory will be on line by 2013 at the earliest...

Posted by Ghost of a flea at November 13, 2008 06:25 PM

Comments

Sauron has gotten pretty big in his old age. We had better develop some sophisticated space battleships to go out there and give him a hiding.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2008 07:33 PM

That's not a planet. That nearby 'burning mass' is Cthugha.

Posted by: Montieth [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2008 11:18 PM