How long before we can directly image an extra-solar planet?

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willpittenger

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Are there any good canidates?&nbsp; Clearly, we would need a leap of technology first, but it has been suggested we could freeze mercury into a perfect mirror on the moon.&nbsp; That could dwarf Hubble and Webb without loosing any size to Earth-based scopes. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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derekmcd

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Are there any good canidates?&nbsp; Clearly, we would need a leap of technology first, but it has been suggested we could freeze mercury into a perfect mirror on the moon.&nbsp; That could dwarf Hubble and Webb without loosing any size to Earth-based scopes. <br /> Posted by willpittenger</DIV></p><p>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2M1207b</p><p>and</p><p>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GQ_Lupi_b</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div> </div><br /><div><span style="color:#0000ff" class="Apple-style-span">"If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing." - Homer Simpson</span></div> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p>I'm not sure I'd consider these candidates to be planets given their temperatures and luminosity, they sound more like brown dwarf stars. But then, I suspect the whole planet definition thing will soon be just as up in the air for extrasolar planets as it currently is for our solar systems planets.</p><p>As far as directly imaging a solar planet of the type like say, Neptune Uranus. Its hard to say because these days, its starting to remind me of fusion power. Fusion power is just 20 years away no matter when you ask. I have a book about the Hubble telescope written before Hubble was launched in which a P.I. commented on Hubbles chances of directly imaging a planet.</p><p>He put the odds at 50/50 or 50% chance of Hubble directly imaging a planet. Every couple of years or so, we now see these "Are they really planet" candidates popping up and reports saying "The first extrasolar planets have been directly imaged" etc.</p><p>As far as rocky, or even gaseous worlds where the temps are more like the planets in this system. None have yet been directly imaged.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p>Herschel might be able to do that on infrared: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=16</p><p>If I understand it correctly, samples up to ten times the resolution of the visible light can be had on infrared, because the wavelength is longer making the mirror more accurate. Hence the 3.5 metre mirror of the Herschel space telescope would be roughly comparable to 35 metre mirror on visible spectrum.&nbsp;</p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Herschel might be able to do that on infrared: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=16If I understand it correctly, samples up to ten times the resolution of the visible light can be had on infrared, because the wavelength is longer making the mirror more accurate. Hence the 3.5 metre mirror of the Herschel space telescope would be roughly comparable to 35 metre mirror on visible spectrum.&nbsp; <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />I could be wrong, but that makes no sense to me. Infrared is longer wavelengths than visible light, which would require a larger mirror for the same resolution.</p><p>It is possible that detection might be more likely due to a smaller difference in brightness between the star and planet at IR wavelengths than at visible ones.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I could be wrong, but that makes no sense to me. Infrared is longer wavelengths than visible light, which would require a larger mirror for the same resolution.It is possible that detection might be more likely due to a smaller difference in brightness between the star and planet at IR wavelengths than at visible ones. <br /> Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV></p><p>I think it has to do with the accuracy of the shape of the mirror, which is one limiting factor besides the size. The rule of thumb requires that the accuracy of the mirror's shape be better than 1/10th of the wavelenght you are going to sample.</p><p>Hence longer wavelength means more accuracy with the same mirror configuration.&nbsp;</p>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I think it has to do with the accuracy of the shape of the mirror, which is one limiting factor besides the size. The rule of thumb requires that the accuracy of the mirror's shape be better than 1/10th of the wavelenght you are going to sample.Hence longer wavelength means more accuracy with the same mirror configuration.&nbsp; <br />Posted by aphh</DIV><br /><br />OK, that does make sense. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>OK, that does make sense. <br /> Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV></p><p>I took a quick look, and It seems Herschel has mirror over 4 times in diameter compared to Spitzer (3.5m vs. 0.85m), so who knows maybe we'll see images of a exoplanet soon, atleast on IR.&nbsp;</p>
 
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willpittenger

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I took a quick look, and It seems Herschel has mirror over 4 times in diameter compared to Spitzer (3.5m vs. 0.85m), so who knows maybe we'll see images of a exoplanet soon, atleast on IR.</p><p>Posted by aphh</DIV><br />Note: I was mainly talking about wavelengths that we see.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Note: I was mainly talking about wavelengths that we see. <br /> Posted by willpittenger</DIV></p><p>We may still need to wait awhile. There are some preliminary studies for ELT's in the range of 40 - 50 metre main mirror, but to my knowledge no decision has been made to build ELT (Extremely Large Telescope).</p><p>Here's one article of a proposed ELT, and how it would reveal the surface features of a exoplanet:<br />http://www.eso.org/public/astronomy/projects/e-elt.html </p>
 
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willpittenger

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>We may still need to wait awhile. There are some preliminary studies for ELT's in the range of 40 - 50 metre main mirror, but to my knowledge no decision has been made to build ELT (Extremely Large Telescope).</p><p>Posted by aphh</DIV></p><p>I have to wonder just how big ground-based scopes can get before their structure gets too unweildy to spin around so the scope can point where you need it to.&nbsp; Less gravity (like on the Moon) helps, but even in deep space in microgravity, it could be a challenge for a big enough scope. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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aphh

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Here's a article about a Giant Telescope in the making.....http://exoplanetsfinder.blogspot.com/2008/06/giant-magellan-telescope.htmlOnly thing that sucks it aint gonna be ready for direct imaging exoplanets til about 2016 or later pending NASA budgets&nbsp; <br /> Posted by earthlike_exoplanet</DIV></p><p>Thanks for the info! Interesting. Let's very much hope for this project getting completed as planned.&nbsp;</p>
 
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brellis

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<p>Before Hubble's Main Camera went down, they were hoping to directly image Epsi Eri b, as mentioned in this 2006 article.</p><p>From that article:</p><p>
Although Hubble and other telescopes cannot image the gas giant planet now, they may be able to snap pictures of it in 2007, when its orbit is closest to Epsilon <span class="searchlite">Eridani</span>. The planet may be bright enough in reflected sunlight to be imaged by Hubble, other space-based cameras, and large ground-based telescopes.
</p><p>Epsi Eri b has a 7-year period, so the next opportunity to image that planet won't occur until 2010/11, so the first candidate will likely come from another system.&nbsp; Once the Hubble Repair Mission is complete, the race will be on between HST and the large ground-based scopes to image a planet in the reflected light of its parent star. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#ff0000"><em><strong>I'm a recovering optimist - things could be better.</strong></em></font> </p> </div>
 
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willpittenger

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Before Hubble's Main Camera went down, they were hoping to directly image Epsi Eri b, as mentioned in this 2006 article.From that article:
Although Hubble and other telescopes cannot image the gas giant planet now, they may be able to snap pictures of it in 2007, when its orbit is closest to Epsilon Eridani. The planet may be bright enough in reflected sunlight to be imaged by Hubble, other space-based cameras, and large ground-based telescopes.
Epsi Eri b has a 7-year period, so the next opportunity to image that planet won't occur until 2010/11, so the first candidate will likely come from another system.&nbsp; Once the Hubble Repair Mission is complete, the race will be on between HST and the large ground-based scopes to image a planet in the reflected light of its parent star.</p><p>Posted by brellis</DIV></p><p>Interesting that Epsi Eri is known to have a large planet.&nbsp; In Babylon 5, it had a large rocky planet that played key recorruing roles. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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