Friday, November 14, 2008

Exoplanets Observed Directly for the First Time

Science reports today that astronomers have finally observed extra-solar planetary bodies directly.
For 13 years, astronomers have inferred only the presence of planets circling other stars. Now, they have finally spotted them with their own eyes. In two papers published online today in Science, researchers report imaging four planets circling two other stars. Experts say this direct view could shed light on planet formation--and eventually even provide signs of alien life.

This is outstanding. It was cool that they were detecting exoplanets by analyzing the wobble patterns of the host stars, but this advance means that we can observe the planets without the need for time-consuming monitoring and data analysis. I'm sure the technology is only suitable for gas giants at present, but hey, it's a start!

HT: Newshoggers

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