Telescope Snaps Distant 'Planet'

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zavvy

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<b>Telescope Snaps Distant 'Planet'</b><br /><br />LINK<br /><br />Astronomers working in Chile think they may have taken the first direct image of a planet circling another star. <br /><br />The star, called 2M1207, is 230 light-years away and is very much smaller and fainter than our own Sun. <br /><br />The pictured companion is 100 times fainter still and tested the technical limits of the Yepun telescope. <br /><br />Astronomer Christophe Dumas said: "It is a strange feeling that it may indeed be the first planetary system beyond our own ever imaged." <br /><br />Benjamin Zuckerman, of the University of California, in Los Angeles, added: "If the candidate companion of 2M1207 is really a planet, this would be the first time that a gravitationally bound exoplanet has been imaged around a star or brown dwarf." <br /><br />And Anne-Marie Lagrange, from the Grenoble Observatory, France, said: "Our discovery represents a first step towards opening a new field in astrophysics: the imaging and spectroscopic study of planetary systems. <br /><br />"Such studies will enable astronomers to characterise the physical structure and chemical composition of giant and, eventually, terrestrial-like planets." <br /><br />At the limit <br /><br />The observations were made with the 8.2m Yepun unit, part of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility operated by the European Southern Observatory (Eso) on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert. <br /><br />In April, a team of European and American astronomers used Yepun to detect a faint and very red point of light near the brown-dwarf star 2M1207. <br /><br />The star has a mass of about a few per cent of our Sun's mass and is not able to sustain nuclear fusion reactions in its core to produce energy in the same way as our Sun does. <br /><br />2M1207 is thought to be about eight million years old. The star is a member of the TW Hydrae stellar association. <br /><br />Working at the li
 
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Leovinus

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Does Hubble have a prayer of seeing this planet? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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kelle

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Hmm... might be a brown dwarf perhaps? If it actually is a planet, that's kind of kewl!
 
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summoner

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I think this is really cool, especially if it turns out to be a huge planet. It seems that within the last couple of years things have really picked up with regard to extrasolar planets and hopefully soon we will be able to spot earth sized planets and possibly be able to make some observations. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> <br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="width:271px;background-color:#FFF;border:1pxsolid#999"><tr><td colspan="2"><div style="height:35px"><img src="http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/htmlSticker1/language/www/US/MT/Three_Forks.gif" alt="" height="35" width="271" style="border:0px" /></div>
 
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tom_hobbes

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Beautiful. Let's hope it's confirmed. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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alokmohan

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If confirmed t his will be first picture of extrasolar planet.We enter new phase in science.
 
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astrophoto

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Chances are its a planet, having a water signature pretty much rules out any type of star we know of.
 
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zavvy

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Here's a follow-up...<br /><br /><b>Rival Teams Race to Snap Alien Planet</b><br /><br />LINK<br /><br />A group of astronomers working in Chile may have taken the first picture of a planet outside our Solar System. <br /><br />The claim comes just months after the sighting of another planet-like object, made using the Hubble Space Telescope and reported by news@nature.com in May this year (see Hubble snaps new world).<br /><br />Although astronomers have identified more than 120 worlds orbiting other stars, none has been pictured directly and researchers are still looking for evidence to confirm that these fuzzy blobs are indeed planets. Direct observation of a planet would allow astronomers to work out the composition of its atmosphere, and perhaps even its surface.<br /><br />"The race is on, so people are pushing the data more and going public before they've really got it nailed down," says Steinn Sigurdsson, one of the Pennsylvania State University astronomers who made the earlier Hubble discovery. He is not revealing the precise location of the object his team found until he has confirmed whether or not it is a planet.<br /><br />Swift Submissions<br /><br />The European Southern Observatory (ESO) scientists, using the Yepun telescope on top of Paranal Mountain in Chile, saw their possible planet orbiting a small, faint star called 2M1207 about 230 light years away. They have submitted their findings to the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.<br /><br />"My immediate reaction was, 'Oh no, we've been scooped'," says Sigurdsson. But both observations lack conclusive evidence that star and planet are moving around each other in a synchronized fashion, which is vital if astronomers are to confirm that the objects are indeed planets. <br /><br />"We had our data before them, but they really hustled and submitted their paper three or four weeks before we did," adds
 
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