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Hubble's Exoplanet Pics Outshined by Keck's

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the keckkeckkeck-is-the-new-bwahaha dept.

Space 140

dtolman writes "Scientists at the Keck and Gemini telescopes stole the thunder of Hubble scientists announcing the first picture of an extrasolar world orbiting a star. Hubble scientists announced today that they were able to discover an extrasolar world for the first time by taking an actual image of the newly discovered exoplanet orbiting Fomalhaut — previous discoveries have always been made by detecting changes in the parent star's movement, or by watching the planet momentarily eclipse the star — not by detecting them in images. Hubble's time to shine was overshadowed though by the Keck and Gemini observatories announcing that they had taken pictures of not just one planet, but an entire alien solar system. The images show multiple planets orbiting the star HR 8799 — 3 have been imaged so far."

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140 comments

Gene Wolfe fans rejoice (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752087)

A planet orbiting Fomalhaut? Well, it seems Gene Wolfe was prescient in his work The Book of the New Sun [amazon.com] when one of his characters contacts a wise civilization there on, as Wolfe uses the Arabic name, "the Fishes' Mouth".

Re:Gene Wolfe fans rejoice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752737)

It's not likely there are any civilizations existing on Fomalhault b. It's too young, big, and far away from its parent. Even the moons are unlikely given its distance from its star relative to the star's temperature.

Re:Gene Wolfe fans rejoice (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754355)

It's not likely there are any civilizations existing on Fomalhault b. It's too young, big, and far away from its parent. Even the moons are unlikely given its distance from its star relative to the star's temperature.

Very true. However, recall that Jupiter's presence (along with the other gas giants) gives wayward asteroids much larger targets than the small lumps of rock in the warmer zone. The discovery of Fomalhaut b just adds another promising similarity between that system and ours.

Re:Gene Wolfe fans rejoice (5, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754723)

It's unlikely there's any civilizations on ANY exoplanets we've discovered, since they're all gas giants. Civilizations like ours are only likely on small, rocky, warm planets, which are currently undetectable to us as they're too small, and too close to their stars.

Of course, Fomalhault "b" is only a temporary designation; if smaller planets are detected closer to the star, then one of those would become "b" I imagine. But even so, it still isn't likely there'd be a civilization on one of those, since this star is so young, and so would any planets orbiting it. If the age of this star is correct, it didn't even exist when our world had dinosaurs on it, which wasn't really that long ago considering the age of our planet.

As for moons, however, I wouldn't be surprised to find that Fomalhault's gas giant planets had some moons. Our own gas giants have tons of moons, many of them just tiny asteroids really. Surely at least a few stray asteroids have been captured by these gas giants over the past 60 million years.

Re:Gene Wolfe fans rejoice (2, Interesting)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752775)

I did'nt catch that reference while reading New Sun - good eye. I was thinking of mentioning Fomalhaut system's role in the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, even though it's just a minor setting IIRC. Then I was going to tell people to check out the series because it's a fine one, but since you've mentioned The Book Of The New Sun, I'm just going to shut up and hope that more folks put it at the top of their reading lists, and then insert it again halfway down to catch what they missed before.

Re:Gene Wolfe fans rejoice (1)

Number14 (168707) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755869)

The Book of the New Sun is one of those very few stories that I finished and then immediately turned back to page 1 to reread to see what I had missed. Genius.

Of course, the Hyperion Cantos is also a favorite, so people should go read both!

Wish I could discovery something (0, Troll)

ItsColdOverHere (928704) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752113)

From your friendly neighborhood grammar nazi

Re:Wish I could discovery something (1)

ItsColdOverHere (928704) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752171)

Oh look, fixed

Re:Wish I could discovery something (0, Flamebait)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753675)

FAKE! Those pictures totally look Photoshopped!

Re:Wish I could discovery something (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753437)

To "Discovery" something is easy: you just make a documentary about it that's too dumbed-down for people who like documentaries but still too boring for those who don't, and add lots of unnecessary and repetitive CG animation.

Re:Wish I could discovery something (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753515)

Bonus point for hiring that guy that does voice-overs for action movie and thriller trailers.

Re:Wish I could discovery something (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753927)

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but he died recently. Sadly this means Hollywood will only be releasing romantic comedies and musicals from now on.

In other news, Gillette's share price has skyrocketed...

Amazing (1, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752125)

This is exhilarating news, that we are most likely not alone in the universe (and beyond). Our solar system is not unique!!

This whole galactic mess has some more meaning, today. We are like infants, opening our eyes for the first time -- how far we have to go (if we don't destroy ourselves soon).

Re:Amazing (2, Insightful)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752351)

We already knew there were planets orbiting other stars.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752371)

we're not going to destroy ourselves. because that's not profitable.

Re:Amazing (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753981)

Tell that to the weapons manufacturers. War is HIGHLY profitable.

Re:Amazing (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754451)

Especially for Vault-Tec! Have you reserved you slot? Do it today!

Re:Amazing (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752547)

We hardly needed these to tell us there are other solar systems with planets in them. I mean they're nice and probably good for creationists or whatever, but other non-visual data proved a long time ago that our star-planet orbit configuration is far from unique.

Re:Amazing (2, Insightful)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754439)

Why on earth (or whatever planet you live on) would this be good for creationists? It's good science, and indicates significant progress in astronomy. Of course, they don't count any data as against them but I can't imagine how that would help them.

Re:Amazing (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754801)

Good as in "there you go, you ignorant idiot" :)

Re:Amazing (3, Funny)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754881)

Plus they might all go there to try and convert the heathens.

Re:Amazing (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752589)

Take a deep breath. The discovery of exoplanets isn't news. Even taking pictures of them isn't news.

It's news that we're finding them on stars kinda like our own, but these aren't earth-style planets.

So, it's pretty interesting, but you can push "pause" on the CD player with "Also Sprach Zarathustra" queued up.

Re:Amazing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752845)

Taking pictures of them *is* news. In fact, that's the point of these releases. These are the first direct images ever released. Before this, all evidence was indirect (oscillating plots of star brightness as the planet periodically eclipsed the host star, for instance).

Re:Amazing (4, Interesting)

MMatessa (673870) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753921)

These are the first direct images ever released. Before this, all evidence was indirect (oscillating plots of star brightness as the planet periodically eclipsed the host star, for instance).

Well, except for HD 189733b [wikipedia.org] , 2M1207 b [wikipedia.org] and GQ Lup b [space.com] .

Re:Amazing (5, Informative)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754321)

HD189733b: not directly imaged, but has had a temperature map of it reconstructed from very careful analysis of the change in the light from the parent star as the planet transits in front of and behind it.

2M1207b: this orbits a brown dwarf, not a star.

GQ Lup b: not a planet by any reasonable stretch of the scientific imagination, unless you happen to have been a co-author of the original paper. Believe me: this one is dead, Jim, and was known by most of us to be so on arrival.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754021)

You assign sight primacy over humanities other methods of 'perception'. Is that where truth emerges these days?

Kind of a tautology (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756781)

these aren't earth-style planets.

The reason we're able to see them is because of that fact - these are young planets. Still hot. We're photographing them in the near-infrared. Once they cool down (and become possible earth candidates) we won't be able to see them with current techniques.

But! We can see them now. Now it's a known skill, not a theoretical. From here on out it's refinement of that skill. Trying to see colder and colder planets. Getting better estimates of mass, rotation and composition. Eventually, we will be able to make those determinations and see earth like planets.

Can't wait! Very exciting stuff.

Re:Amazing (2, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753019)

planets != habitable != life != intelligent life

Hell there is no reason to assume that intelligence is even the natural outcome of evolution, it didn't work during the era of the dinosaurs. When you take into account so many unknown factors, the existence of planets that we already knew would exist hardly makes it likely that we are not alone in the AU (we are ofcourse not alone in the universe, but what does it matter if we can never make contact with them). How many species are there in the AU well Drake came up with an equation for this i believe the answer was something like 31 +/- 3,000,000.

Re:Amazing (2, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754813)

Intelligence isn't a binary, yes-or-no trait. Dinosaurs were intelligent, just like lizards and birds and cats. They weren't very intelligent compared to us, but compared to an amoeba they certainly were. While you're sitting there thinking that you're so intelligent, there's probably some super-advanced alien race observing us, the way we observe mice or ants, and laughing at us for thinking we're intelligent.

Because of our limited technology for detecting exoplanets, the only ones discovered so far are gas giants, mostly larger even than our own solar system's gas giants (which are already gigantic compared to Earth). There's no telling how many earth-sized rocky planets (or moons) exist, even around the stars we've already found gas giants around. ETs may even exist on some of these, but short of detecting radio transmissions from them, there's no way to tell.

Re:Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25755735)

So, i'm guessing you are one of those humans who think only humans have intelligence?

Why do people always do this?
Is it because humans can speak the way they do?
How do we know that birds aren't just randomly making noises? Or that dogs barks aren't some form of communication? (simple at that)
Or is it because we build things?
I'm pretty sure there are other animals who build all the time, including birds.

And speaking of communication, do all these people searching think outside of the box much?
Alien races could easily be using entire suns to communicate, by altering its surface state, or covering it in a massive bubble that could encode information by removing certain frequencies.
Hell, for all we know, Pulsars could be communicators.

We have already created some form of cross-species communication with dolphins, simple just now (pictographic for now), but with more research and funding, could go much further.
Could be useful, if out of some freak chance, we actually do manage to find an alien race nearby...

Re:Amazing (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756471)

"Our solar system is not unique!!"

Actually, from current observations [bbc.co.uk] , it is -especially when it comes to punctuation.

Rings around the planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752137)

Planet b looks like it might have a dark set of saturns rings ?!?!?!?!

The Author (5, Informative)

cuby (832037) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752175)

Hello,
I think the discovery was made by the team led by Paul Kalas:
http://astro.berkeley.edu/~kalas/index.html [berkeley.edu]

Re:The Author (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753109)

You are correct. I pretty much guessed what the gist of the announcement would be, thanks to his presence in the pre-announcement last week . After all - his big extrasolar claim to fame is figuring out that the dust ring at that star had a sharp inner edge that had to be caused by a planet.

obligatory... (3, Funny)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752187)

that's not a planet...

Re:obligatory... (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752621)

It would be "That's no planet..."

I wish I could mod myself (-1: Pedantic)

Re:obligatory... (4, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753249)

That's no mod choice!

Re:obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753759)

That's no joke!

Re:obligatory... (1, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755239)

Ahem. It would be "That's no moon..."

Re:obligatory... (2, Informative)

metamatic (202216) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752847)

On the contrary, if it's in Kecks [odps.org] , it might be Uranus.

Re:obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25756557)

I see you've played Planety-Moony before.

Direct link to Hubble Press Release and pix (5, Informative)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752223)

This came out after I posted the article... Hubble presents - Fomalhaut B [nasa.gov] ! This graphic [nasa.gov] is particularly nice!

Colonization (4, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752271)

I wanna live on the left dot.

Re:Colonization (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752577)

It looks like Saturn. So it's probably a gas giant. Bring plenty of GasX with you to neutralize the atmosphere.

Re:Colonization (0, Redundant)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752923)

That's no moon...

Re:Colonization (5, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752601)

If you can get there, it's yours.

Re:Colonization (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752815)

If you can get there, it's yours.

Sweet. I'm going to paint it pink and stock it with hippies.

Sorry (4, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752915)

As deed holder via the International Star Registry, that includes a deed on any planets in orbit, I forbid it. Why, there might even be rich deposits of diamelles and/or Ginsu steak knives on that planet. I'm not giving it up without a fight.

Re:Sorry (4, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753007)

As deed holder via the International Star Registry, that includes a deed on any planets in orbit, I forbid it. Why, there might even be rich deposits of diamelles and/or Ginsu steak knives on that planet. I'm not giving it up without a fight.

If it's interstellar war you want, sir, it's interstellar war you shall have! Have at you!

Re:Sorry (2, Funny)

AkkarAnadyr (164341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754735)

Gesundheit!

Re:Colonization (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752991)

Colonel Sandurz: Prepare ship for ludicrous speed! Fasten all seatbelts, seal all entrances and exits, close all shops in the mall, cancel the three ring circus, secure all animals in the zoo!

Alien vs Predator (2)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752375)

Alien vs Predator made even more sense than the comparison in the headline...

Yawn (-1, Troll)

noc007 (633443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752495)

It's great and all that we can take pictures like this and do extrasolar planetary tracking, however Subby's description is a bit misleading. I thought it said there were actual detailed pictures of these planets like the pictures we have of planets in our system.

Wake me up when there's a pic of what the weather (atmosphere) looks like on an extrasolar planet.

Re:Yawn (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754619)

I thought it said there were actual detailed pictures of these planets like the pictures we have of planets in our system.

How the [bleep] did you read it that way?

Wake me up when there's a pic of what the weather (atmosphere) looks like on an extrasolar planet.

If you want to sleep until 2085, be my guest. I can help knock....I mean put you out that long, but I'll have to leave the waking part to the future experts.
             

Atmosphere is in the spectrum (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754623)

Wake me up when there's a pic of what the weather (atmosphere) looks like on an extrasolar planet.

What they have right now can give a pretty accurate idea of the atmosphere on that planet. Pass the light from that dot through a diffraction grating and the spectrum will tell you which gases are present in what proportion in the atmosphere, and what is their temperature.

Re:Yawn (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756683)

Dude, we don't have that for all the planets in our own Solar System.

I'm sending them a email right now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25752527)

It's only 26 light years away. That just enough time for LOLCATS to stop being lame and starting being ironically retro.

Planets look like... (1)

infalliable (1239578) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752531)

So planets look a lot like noise. They really aren't all that much different than the expected noise levels on the images. Especially on the first one from Fomalhaut.

Re:Planets look like... (5, Informative)

msbmsb (871828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752727)

You have to see the orbital progression to get over the thought that it's just another speck of light noise. Here is a larger image showing the position of the planet from 2004 and 2006 [nasa.gov] . Also, here is the url for the release showing the image of HR 8799 with its 3 planets [lowell.edu] .

Re:Planets look like... (4, Insightful)

Stephen Ma (163056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752821)

So planets look a lot like noise.

If the "noise" obeys Kepler's laws, it's probably an image of something real.

Yes they do. (5, Interesting)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755251)

So planets look a lot like noise. They really aren't all that much different than the expected noise levels on the images. Especially on the first one from Fomalhaut.

From far enough away, yes. Yes they do. For example, here's Earth from just outside the solar system, and the basis for Sagan's Pale Blue Dot.

http://veimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/601/PIA00452.tif [nasa.gov] (TIFF image)

That light blue pixel on the right is us. All of us. Taken from 6.4 billion kilometers away.

Deadpixel, indeed.

Ummm... that's the Eye of Sauron (1)

Nyktos (198946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752551)

This ain't no solar system... it's the all seeing Eye of Sauron! Creepy.

Mote in God's Eye (4, Funny)

MikeMo (521697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752907)

no, not Sauron. That is clearly the Mote in God's Eye.

Ah... so this is... (0, Flamebait)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752571)

What a big ass telescope pissing contest looks like...

And here I thought the headline would read: we can now see planets and stars beyond.

more like (1)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752583)

Speck and Gemini telescopes stole the thunder of Hubble scientists announcing the first picture of an extrasolar world orbiting a star.

Seriously though, it is a shame that this will not get wider news coverage. Slashdot has had some interesting articles in the past few days, first the 11,000 temple and now this. This is slashdot after all, let us not dwell on the cosmic or profound. Queue the speck puns in 3... 2... 1...

The similarities are stunning! (5, Funny)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752629)

they are massive, young, hot planets that are probably mostly gaseous and completely inhospitable. They'd get along great with my ex!

In the hubble picture (4, Informative)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752661)

In the hubble picture, does anyone else see the shadow of the Enterprise?

Re:In the hubble picture (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753395)

That was my first thought as well. Glad to see I wasn't the only one.

Re:In the hubble picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754961)

I just love .... Scanning for lifeforms.
Where ist SETI when you need them?

Yeah, some picture (0)

dukeofurl01 (236461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752681)

It's a regular pulitzer.

Zoom In (1)

HeyBob! (111243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25752857)

"Computer, Zoom in"

Outshined? Outshone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753029)

From the "My English is goodly" department, more like.

At least you managed to use the apostrophes correctly, Timothy.

Great explanation from Gemini directors (3, Interesting)

G3CK0 (708703) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753033)

On Thursday 13th November 2008, Gemini Observatory in coordination with several institutions released the first images of an exo multi-planet system around star HR 8799 in the constellation of Pegasus. The discovery was made at Gemini North using the adaptive optics system ALTAIR and NIRI as the infrared imager on October 17, 2007. Follow up and confirming observations were made on the Keck II Telescope and Gemini North. Adaptive optics played a crucial role in obtaining these historic images of a young extra-solar multiple-planet system. The estimated age of the system implies planetary masses between 5 and 13 times that of Jupiter. These giant planets orbit at roughly 25, 40 and 70 times the Earth-Sun separation around their host star which is about 128 light-years from our sun. For more details see www.gemini.edu [gemini.edu] .

Finally! (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753051)

I was an astrophysics major in college for about 2 years but gave up on it because it seemed so speculative. To infer the existence of a planet around a star from the 'wobble' we see in the position or spectrum of the star may be sound science but it hardly grabs the imagination.

THIS, on the other hand is truly awesome. Seeing is believing I guess. Unless some kid is dicking around with Photoshop -- or more likely GIMP.

Re:Finally! (1)

eabrek (880144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753257)

I'm sure there is a lot of processing/filtering required to make these images, but still! Very cool!

Re:Finally! (3, Interesting)

eabrek (880144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753325)

Some description of the technique [gemini.edu] . Under ADI.

Re:Finally! (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754699)

To infer the existence of a planet around a star from the 'wobble' we see in the position or spectrum of the star may be sound science but it hardly grabs the imagination.

Funny thing is, it grabs *my* imagination! To see something, we have been doing this since eyes evolved on animals. But to perform careful calculations and realize that the results imply the existence of a planet, well, that's what I call awesome.

overshadowed? (4, Insightful)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753179)

Not entirely sure why the summary touches on one being overshadowed by the other.

On the contrary, the two works are complimentary, and it is thus no coincidence that they have been released at the same time. Hubble shows an old cold planet on the edge of a solar system, while Keck shows some very young hot infra-red emitting planets close to their star. The two discoveries help elucidate the workings of other solar systems - and each is just as valuable as the other.

Re:overshadowed? (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753281)

How about the fact that the Keck/Gemini team just happened to release the news a few hours before a press conference by the Hubble team. A press conference that was announced a week ago. They could have waited until tomorrow. Or next week. Looked to me like they figured out that Hubble had a similar announcement, and tried to beat them to the punch.

Re:overshadowed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753399)

Both papers are appearing in the same issue of ScienceExpress, and presumably had identical press embargo restrictions. If an embargo was broken, it's not clear that it was an attempt of one team to scoop another; could just be a journalist trying to get a scoop, or someone accidentally overlooking the embargo.

Re:overshadowed? (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753463)

hmmm... good counter argument. Still have no idea what the truth behind this is.

Either way, its a good day for armchair astronomers (and professional ones too).

Re:overshadowed? (5, Informative)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754269)

Rest assured, these were strongly coordinated: both teams knew full well of each others results well in advance, both were scheduled for simultaneous release via Science at 2pm EDT today, and indeed, both papers share one co-author. (I work in the same group as another co-author of the HR8799 paper, so believe me that this is first-hand knowledge). The HST press conference was scheduled (well in advance) for shortly after the Science embargo expired.

Of course, this hasn't stopped both groups trying to spin up their results in a perfectly understandable fashion. The downside is that many online press stories are showing very signs of confusion as to what's what, not at all helped by the blizzard of parallel press releases from various institutions on the HR8799 3-planet system result.

Indeed, the Gemini Observatory release shows images taken with their telescope showing just two of the planets, presumably because they don't want to cede any ground to the Keck, their rivals on Mauna Kea, where the third planet was found. Again, potentially very confusing indeed to the public.

As for the complementary aspect of the two discoveries, that's mostly the case and both discoveries are very important. But it's not true to say that one's (Fomalhaut) an old planet seen in reflected visible light while the others (HR8799) are young and shining in their own heat: both stars are roughly equally young and the Fomalhaut planet seems also to be shining in some mix of its own heat even in the visible (it's at 400K, possibly), plus perhaps some additional reflected light from a dusty disk around the planet (as opposed to the obvious disk around the star itself).

Also, I wouldn't say the HR8799 planets are close to their star: nothing like. They're out at the equivalent of Neptune's orbit and beyond, even though the Fomalhaut planet's a bit further out still.

Hope this helps allay your (understandable) scepticism.

Re:overshadowed? (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755489)

That makes sense. It was a little confusing this morning seeing the Keck/Gemini announcements out, covering the same ground as the expected (and previously announced) Hubble. Then the Keck got pulled for a few hours leaving just the Gemini. Guess those press/web guys at the observatories need more practice following embargoes :)

Anyway - its quiet exciting to see not just 1 but 4 objects that we can get spectra on (hopefully soon).

Re:overshadowed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25754633)

Conspiracy theories are always more fun than the boring truth.

The boring truth is that it was a coincidence.

Re:overshadowed? (2, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754505)

Not entirely sure why the summary touches on one being overshadowed by the other...the two works are complimentary...Hubble shows an old cold planet on the edge of a solar system, while Keck shows some very young hot infra-red emitting planets close to their star.

More specifically, comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. The infrared image shows the planets because they are still glowing bright in infrared because they were very recently formed, and thus "hot out of the oven". The article said that the Hubble image was based on visible light reflected from the parent star, not from the planet's own heat. It's thus a dimmer target. (Hubble is not designed/optimized for infrared.)

It is true that Earth-based scopes have better resolution than Hubble in very *specific* circumstances with careful "tricks"; but in general, Hubble is still The King. (Although processing tricks to counter the atmosphere "wiggle" for Earth scopes are making incremental improvements and may catch up someday.)
       

Re:overshadowed? (2, Informative)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754709)

See my post elsewhere in this thread, but this isn't true: if you read the Fomalhaut paper (as opposed to the PR), they're unsure quite what mix of reflected starlight, thermal self-emission, and additional reflected light from a circumplanetary disk makes up the light seen from Fomalhaut b, at both visible and IR wavelengths.

These objects are actually more similar than they are different, in my opinion.

As for HST still being king, well, yes and no: depends on what you're after. Ground-based AO has caught up and exceeded HST in some domains already, while HST still wins in others. Ultimately we need ground- and space-based telescopes to get the most complete view: today it's HST and the 8-10m telescopes, tomorrow it's JWST and the 30-40m extremely large telescopes.

Re:overshadowed? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755305)

if you read the Fomalhaut paper (as opposed to the PR), they're unsure quite what mix of reflected starlight, thermal self-emission, and additional reflected light from a circumplanetary disk makes up the light seen from Fomalhaut b, at both visible and IR wavelengths. These objects are actually more similar than they are different, in my opinion.

The referenced article says this: "Fomalhaut b, in the Hubble image, is much older (200 million years) [implying cooler], and glows only by reflected light from Fomalhaut."

If what you say is true, then the article is wrong.

As far as which telescope is "best", my understanding is that atmosphere "cancellation" techniques require a nearby bright "guide star", greatly limiting the targets. There is technology to use a laser beam(s) instead of a guide star, but it was still in the testing stages the last I read. Maybe it's gotten better since I last read up on it.

       

Re:overshadowed? (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756085)

See my post elsewhere in this thread, but this isn't true: if you read the Fomalhaut paper (as opposed to the PR), they're unsure quite what mix of reflected starlight, thermal self-emission, and additional reflected light from a circumplanetary disk makes up the light seen from Fomalhaut b, at both visible and IR wavelengths.

These objects are actually more similar than they are different, in my opinion.

As for HST still being king, well, yes and no: depends on what you're after. Ground-based AO has caught up and exceeded HST in some domains already, while HST still wins in others. Ultimately we need ground- and space-based telescopes to get the most complete view: today it's HST and the 8-10m telescopes, tomorrow it's JWST and the 30-40m extremely large telescopes.

I somehow imagine that if they replaced Hubble with a current cousin in technological advances the King's cousin would reign supreme, across all fields of imagery.

Too bad we had to put so much into Iraq when just one month of cost could do wonders for earth orbiting telescopic research.

Traffic routing (2, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753469)

Nice pictures. That looks like an excellent spot for a hyperspace express bypass.

Alien Solar System? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25753757)

"pictures of not just one planet, but an entire alien solar system"

Isn't there just 1 Solar system? The one with the star Sol. All the rest are just planetary systems.

How is this outshined? (1)

patiwat (126496) | more than 5 years ago | (#25753925)

Wouldn't it be harder to take a photo of a single planet than an entire solar system? And if so, then the Hubble team's accomplishment still means a lot more.

Re:How is this outshined? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25755113)

Actually, it's not outshined. It should be "outshone."

Duck Dodgers... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25754227)

You know, I bet if we follow THESE planets, we can't help but reach Planet X!

I don't know how you do it Dodgers.

Redo (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755349)

Nifliik blinked, please retake it.

these discoveries (1)

SETY (46845) | more than 5 years ago | (#25755709)

I really love these discoveries, because it means someday a game like Spore or Elite will have the actual stars, with the actual planets, with the actual atmospheres. These planets will all be named, etc. etc.

When I was playing Elite/Frontier years ago, I (and I believe scientist too) weren't even 100% sure extra-solar planets existed.

focus the camera on the moon landings (0, Troll)

wandlerer (1036418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756071)

How is it that pictures can be taken of a planet 26 light years away, yet the moon landing site cannot be photographed?

One of the worn out excuses is that the pixel angle is too small to see things that small.

Well, I would like to counter with the argument that seeing a 3m object 250,000 miles away is just as easy, if not easier, than seeing a planet many light years away.

And they did this optically?

Let's see if my math is wrong:

3m/400km = 7.45e-9 radians. This is what "can't" be done

x/26 light years = 7.45e-9 radians: x = 1,840,000 km. That KM, not meters.

So, if the camera can't take a picture of a 3m object on the moon [the size of the rover], it also shouldn't be able to take a picture of anything less than 1.84e9 meters in diameter 26 light years away.

What am I missing?

Re:focus the camera on the moon landings (1)

ashfields (1174609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756957)

The moon is too bright.

Try it at night, when it's not lit.

It's still too bright.

Use less sensitive optics.

Good idea!

And to make it interesting to slashdot:

To photograph the Moon landing sites in high detail, with cheap home made equipment, the bunch of moon-landing-deniers could each buy a small telescope, coordinate them across the net in real time, and use adaptive optics techniques to combine and sharpen the images, the same way the Keck team photographed those exo-planets.

I think, with a million home telescopes linked up, all pointed at the landing sites, with adaptive optics, they could count the stars on the flags (at least).

grammer gammer (1)

Farcalled (935779) | more than 5 years ago | (#25756793)

"outshone" rather than "outshined" which does not yet exist even in Wesbsterland.
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