Mink Machine

Twinkle twinkle little planet

Over 130 stars have been shown to have orbiting planets during the last years. Their presences are basically detected in two ways: either by a slight wobble in the star positions due to gravity or a variation in intensity as the planet pass in front of the star. However, there has been no actual light detection of any extra-solar planet, a visual confirmation of sorts.

Until now.

Researchers at Cornell University and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has detected light from two planets, cataloged as HD 209458b and TrES-1, situated in the constellations of Pegasus and Lyra, respectively. The detection was made by comparing the light intensity of the system as the planet passed behind the star.

They are both gas giants and very hot since they orbit close to their stars and thus emit a lot of infrared radiation due to heat absorption, which will make detection easier. One of the planets seems to have a circular orbit rather than elliptical, which would be a significant finding.

Read more about it at Spitzer Telescope home page, NASA Spitzer site and Cornell’s Spitzer telescope site.

I wonder what the astronomers will come up with in the following years. Humans will most likely not visit an extra-solar planet in my lifetime, but I hope to at least see one from a distance with greater detail than the above mentioned pioneering techniques. These are exciting times!

Comments

No comments yet.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured stories

Exploring Chernobyl

"But unlike the movie Chernobyl Diaries, we didn’t find anybody there. Nature had reclaimed the area and the silence was deafening."

Reliving history in Washington D.C.

"As I entered the heavily guarded Rotunda in the center, some of the most famous documents in the world laid before me."

Bunker safari

"The area contains 54 excavated bunkers along with gun emplacements, scattered around the town’s most visible landmark."

Having champagne in Champagne

"We roamed the damp and chilly tunnels and stumbled upon a large barrel delivered by Napoleon himself."

Alone in Kyoto

"I tried my best to sneak across the building, but the floor revealed me each time. I suppose I would make a lousy ninja."

Roaming in Valletta

"I passed the statue of Jean de Valette, the 49th Grand Master who laid the foundation stone to Valletta in 1566, to gaze at the golden interior of St. John’s Co-Cathedral, where he is buried in the crypt."