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First Direct Photo of Exoplanet Confirmed

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the say-cheese-guys dept.

Space 189

An anonymous reader noted a report confirming the first ever exoplanet actually photographed from telescopes on earth. Every other exoplanet so far 'observed' has been done by measuring wobbles of stars pulled by planetary gravity. But this one is a photograph. And that's just plain cool.

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As Wil Wheaton often says (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743076)

Damn, I love living in the future.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (3, Funny)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743110)

But you wrote that comment in the past!

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743212)

When? Just now!

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743250)

When does then become now?

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743342)

Soon.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743396)

You just missed it.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743942)

This is why we need, needed and will need that time-traveling grammar book mentioned, being mentioned and to be mentioned in Hitchhiker's guide.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32744648)

No, he wrote that in HIS past, but his personal temporal reality exists in reverse order to our own, so from OUR perspective, he actually wrote that at some contiuously moving point somewhere in the near future. We approach that future ever closer, but never quite reaching it, until, at some point, time ceases relevancy. At that point, we reach a temporal "event horizon", and time and creation, as we understand them, simply cease to be. The less observant you are of this event, the more likely you are to actually experience it. Kind of like the concept of "corporate culture", now that I think of it.

What does the above have to do with the topic at hand? Pfft, little, until you remember that what we see in the telescope are things as they WERE, and not neccessarily as they ARE. Even light takes time to travel a distance like this, which the referenced article explains is about 700 LY away.

Before we can even consider travel to places like these, we'll need to figure out a way to get around the observable vs. actual discrepancy.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743332)

And I hate living in a pre-warp culture. Come on scientists. Invent a warp drive so instead of taking blurry images, we can send a camera to that distant planet and take a photo directly.

I don't know. Maybe this is why aliens have never contacted us? Maybe they are stuck inside their local solar system, same as we are, and the distance between stars is just too big a hurdle to jump. I once read a Science story about humans that hopped on a giant ship and accelerated to llghtspeed to visit a star with an earthlike planet. The humans inboard only aged two years, but 150 years passed-away back home..... whole countries rose and fell during that timespan. Totally impractical way to explore.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743392)

Agreed. Something like Warp from Star Trek or the Gravity Drive from Event Horizon (minus the hellish torture...or not, some people might dig that) are likely the only ways we will be able to explore beyond our solar system in a reasonable amount of time.

Or, we could just all play the "space age" in Spore at the same time :p

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (2, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743404)

It's only impractical now while our world is developing.

Who knows how long people will live for in the future? If we could all live to say 500 years old, then space travel would be much easier on us.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744000)

Or like in the Asimov novel Robots of Dawn, maybe long-lived humans will become so afraid of death & disease that they will stop exploring completely. In that Science story the humans are born, live, and die in their homes.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744212)

even if we all live 1000 years, getting to that planet will be incredibly long and boring.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (4, Funny)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743472)

as a PhD student in physics, the interstellar travel mechanism closest to being theoretically possible that I've seen so far is the Infinite Improbability Drive [wikipedia.org] .

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744028)

In particle physics there are experiments which seem to prove faster-than-light communication is possible. So it might take 150 years to reach a star, but the camera could beam back the video instantly.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744238)

footnote missing. comment will be deleted.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744666)

Ummmm.... no there aren't. No experiment has ever shown that information can be transmitted faster than light or even hinted at it. you might be thinking of quantum entanglement. This commonly gets translated as "faster than light communication", but this is not accurate.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744696)

In particle physics there are experiments which seem to prove faster-than-light communication is possible.

No there aren't.

There are experiments which seem to demonstrate that things can appear to happen faster than light if and only if no information whatsoever is transmitted.

The correlation between the collapsed states of entangled particles is such a case. You can interpret the result as meaning that one particle somehow told the other about its' post-collapse state "instantly", but this can't tell you anything you didn't already know -- specifically, that the states were entangled and there is a correlation between their outcomes. You can't affect the outcome, you can't measure it in such a way that it's distinguishable from your measurement causing the collapse of the entanglement.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

zerospeaks (1467571) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744244)

TRY HARDER! I only got like 50 more years of life at most, if i'm very lucky. Hurry up already!! "Once we knew it was possible we just did it, and we still don't really know how we did it" -Ender's Game [Talking about lightspeed travel]

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744710)

Quoting Orson Scott Card about light speed drive? I wonder if a Mormon is really the best source of advice about science that you could find...

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (2, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744740)

What I find most fascinating about people who want to be able to travel to exotic new worlds and find new life forms: so frequently these people spend their entire life behind a computer screen when there are so many worlds to visit here on Earth.

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744282)

I once read a Science story about humans that hopped on a giant ship and accelerated to llghtspeed to visit a star with an earthlike planet. The humans inboard only aged two years, but 150 years passed-away back home..... whole countries rose and fell during that timespan. Totally impractical way to explore.

I have never heard of such a thing. Do you have a link?

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (1)

Fahrvergnuugen (700293) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743398)

But that photo is from the past...

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743462)

Let me guess - you follow him on Twatter?

Picard should have whipped his dorky little ass, then given his mom the shag of a lifetime right before his helpless eyes...

Re:As Wil Wheaton often says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743662)

Photos... or it didn't happen ? Yeah, that's right, where is the PHOTO of the Alien Planet ?
Might it be just 2 wobbling pixels, the public has the right to see it !

Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1, Insightful)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743112)

Wait a second.

I can see venus at night - I can take a photo my with my camera.

Is there some weird definition of "Alien" that I dont know of?

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743138)

I think it has to do with outside the solar system

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1)

Surkow (1202815) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743142)

Outside our solar system perhaps?

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743160)

Alien, in this context, = outside of our solar system. As in too far for you to take a picture.

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743364)

Alien, in this context, = outside of our solar system. As in too far for you to take a picture.

You are making quite an assumption about where the GP poster lives and is posting from. Beam me up dismiley!

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (4, Informative)

Buggz (1187173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743234)

Is there some weird definition of "Alien" that I dont know of?

Usually it means extra-terrestrial, but in this case they mean extra-solar (a word also used in the article). I'll assume the guy who came up with the headline is not the guy who wrote the article.

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743242)

"Extra-solar" planet is implied, dj smiley. I have been observing other planets with the naked eye for decades now...

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743564)

I have been observing other planets with the naked eye for decades now...

Wow, don't you ever sleep?

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743286)

Wait a second.

I can see venus at night - I can take a photo my with my camera.

Is there some weird definition of "Alien" that I dont know of?

Yes. The planet is claimed by either the Mexicans or the Canadians.

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743328)

If there were actual aliens on Venus, we'd have found them by now.

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743488)

Like the word "ironic", the meaning of "alien" is quite open to interpretation. In this case alien being outside our solar system.

Nothing wrong with this usage.

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743542)

Is there some weird definition of "Alien" that I dont know of?

"That you can't even dream of visiting physically one day"

Re:Because we can't see Venus at night.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32744312)

Venus used to be alien, until we landed something on it. Now we own that rock.

Photo dates from 2008 (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743120)

The key word in the title is "confirmed." Readers may remember that there were 2 separate sets of planets photographed in papers published in 2008. Now, we are sure (not that there was much doubt) that one of them is truly orbiting its primary star.

Re:Photo dates from 2008 (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743446)

Well, if you want to get technically correct - the best kind of correct - then the title should be "First Confirmation of Direct Photo of Alien Planet", not "First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed", since it most certainly is not the first direct photograph of an alien planet.

We photographed many, many alien planets before this one: every time anyone pointed a camera at the sky, in fact. We've just not spotted any planets in those other images (yet).

Re:Photo dates from 2008 (1)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743848)

We just need to use the good old CSI zoom and enhance! We'll find many more!

Re:Photo dates from 2008 (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744400)

All camera's get 1billion mega-pixel just police get access to the majority of it, regular users only get the degraded 3megapixel versions. Duhhh. I don't know why people find CSI hard to follow.

Re:Photo dates from 2008 (3, Funny)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744490)

We just need to use the good old CSI zoom and enhance! We'll find many more!

But won't they all be covered in semen and blood stains?

Re:Photo dates from 2008 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32744326)

not sure I agree with this
If you take a digital photo of the sky, and the (to simplify) background is 20 bits/pixel, and the planets contribute less then 1 bit/pixel, then the pixel with the planet would be 20 bits.
So there weren't actually anyplanets in the photo

Re:Photo dates from 2008 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32744554)

We photographed many, many alien planets before this one: every time anyone pointed a camera at the sky, in fact.

No we did not. Just because the planet was in the angle of view of a camera does not mean that camera captured a picture of the planet. No film or sensor has infinite resolution. There is a minimum grain or pixel size, and if the planet is perceptually smaller than that size (guaranteed if it's outside the solar system), it is lost in the averaging of the exposure of that grain or pixel. You are in no measurable way capturing a picture of that planet.

Good (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743126)

The ones in our solar system were getting so lame.

Re:Good (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743416)

In fact, we even had to relegate Pluto to the status of a lump of ice just to keep people interested and talking about them.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743538)

I know how we can make them more interesting. Let's put people on them! It'll be just like a reality show, except real!

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743650)

I vote we use the cast of "Jersey Shore," and not give them spacesuits.

Re:Good (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744564)

And the Kardashians...

Re:Good (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743730)

Pluto will always be a planet in my heart.

Re:Good (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744014)

You should join (and donate to!) the special interest group a former colleague of mine founded. It's called "People Outraged Over Pluto". Soon those legislative fatcats will have to eat their words, after Pluto's triumphal return!

Re:Good (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744284)

Can I like P.O.O.P. on Facebook?

Re:Good (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744420)

Holy shit, your heart must be fucking huge.

Wow... (1)

StudMuffin (167171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743150)

This makes me happy in a way I find very difficult to describe.

Re:Wow... (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743474)

I know exactly what you mean. Heavenly bodies get me excited, too!

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743796)

OH, I thought he was just has aspergers' and emotions are alien to him.

But you added a dimension every body can relate to and experience a certain degree of excitement...

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32744576)

Sir, Put the Vaseline down.

Adaptic optics FTW (4, Insightful)

OneAhead (1495535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743156)

I see this as a big triumph of adaptic optics. This picture was not made by a space telescope, but by an earth-based one!

Re:Adaptic optics FTW (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743196)

I see this as a big triumph of adaptic optics. This picture was not made by a space telescope, but by an earth-based one!

Indeed, hope the liquid mirror option becomes practical and viable [slashdot.org] so we can achieve more amazing photographs and data like this. Although I have to wonder why they didn't use an orbiting satellite like Hubble to avoid Earth's atmosphere when photographing such an amazing thing. Have terrestrial adaptive optic solutions already caught up with orbiting satellites?

Re:Adaptic optics FTW (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743390)

Yes. But space optics will take a big leap once the JWST goes up.

Re:Adaptic optics FTW (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743410)

IIRC, Hubble's mirror, despite not having to deal with atmospheric conditions, is much smaller than that of many terrestrial observatories. As such if you can apply adaptive optics techniques, you still have more usable light on the ground based telescopes.

I personally just say we take the best of both worlds - I want a lunar based observatory with a 25 meter aperture. No need for adaptive optics, and FAR more light gathering capability than our current telescopes. We'll figure out how to pay for it later :) (sadly, I'm sure for the price of the Iraq war we COULD have such a piece of hardware).

Re:Adaptic optics FTW (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744384)

I personally just say we take the best of both worlds - I want a lunar based observatory with a 25 meter aperture. No need for adaptive optics, and FAR more light gathering capability than our current telescopes. We'll figure out how to pay for it later :)

Use a design like the Hobbey-Eberly [wikipedia.org] or Keck [wikipedia.org] scopes, constructing a very large mirror out of many smaller hexagonal pieces. Launch the hexes and components of the support structure individually into earth orbit, dock and refuel the rockets at the conveniently waiting orbital fuel depots, then send em off to the moon for a fraction of the cost of a rocket capable of lifting a 25-foot telescope. On-site assembly of the telescope is left as an exercise for the space agency who just happens to be newly focused on figuring such things out. :)

(sadly, I'm sure for the price of the Iraq war we COULD have such a piece of hardware).

Yes, but as big a fan as I am of the concept of us hypothetically not having spent all that money, the reality is that even if we hadn't, there's no way most of the proposed alternative uses would have been green-lighted.

Re:Adaptic optics FTW (1)

Kreuzfeld (308371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744160)

Hubble has better resolution at visible wavelengths, but remember we're seeing the planet's thermal radiation and not reflected (visible) light -- so the planet is over 10 times fainter in the visible than at at infrared wavelengths (Figure 6 in the paper [arxiv.org] ). Hubble can also see into the infrared, but because it is smaller than the largest ground-based telescopes Hubble does not offer the best resolution in the infrared.

Re:Adaptic optics FTW (2, Informative)

rwllama (587787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743990)

Adaptive optics works great at infrared wavelengths. It does not (yet) do well at visible wavelengths. Even the 2.5 meter mirror of Hubble has better resolution at visible wavelengths than the 10 meter Keck mirror due to atmospheric blurring. Further, adaptive optics is only effective over small fields of view (such as a single star and planet). One can not take a wide field view of a nebula or a galaxy and get a high resolution adaptive optics view over the whole field.

Aint the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743158)

It's not the first direct imaging of an exoplanet. ... seems like they just don't know what they are talking about..

Here,s the first planet image:
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fomalhaut_b

Re:Aint the first (2, Informative)

yakumo.unr (833476) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743272)

From TFA "first ever directly photographed by telescopes on Earth" Formalhaut_b was imaged from Hubble.

And it's such a bright little planet (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743180)

It must be filled with sunflower people.

Alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743244)

Which 'aliens' come from this planet?

The small grey ones? The ones that burst out of peoples chests? ET ? Vogons?

Re:Alien (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743896)

Of course it's an alien planet! It's not Earth, for crying out loud!

What's next, an article headlined Canada Full of Foreigners? (I'm writing from the U.S. perspective, which is that all other countries are full of foreigners.)

Just a bit blurry (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743264)

But that's just because Bigfoot and Elvis are visible in the corner.

Mulder and Scully in agreement (1)

ewg (158266) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743276)

Finally, an extraterrestrial revelation Mulder and Scully can agree on.

Pluto (3, Interesting)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743304)

There's an irony in that we can now see extrasolar planets but we still can't get a really decent the smallest (dwarf)planet in our solar system.

Re:Pluto (1)

rwllama (587787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743834)

That depends on what you mean by "a really decent" image. We can see surface features on Pluto, albeit still a very fuzzy view. These exoplanets are unresolved - we can see they are there, but we can see absolutely no details. Further, recognize that a Jupiter-size planet is over 100,000 km in diameter, while the largest Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs, which includes Pluto) are at best 3,000 km. Surface area goes as the square of the diameter, so you can see that the amount of light reflected will be vastly larger for a giant planet than for even the biggest KBOs. Plus KBOs tend to be rather dark and reflect little of the light that hits them (low albedo). BUT, this will change in 2015 when New Horizons gets to the Pluto/Charon system and shows the details.

Anonymous what? (-1, Offtopic)

genrader (563784) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743320)

A bit off topic but I always remember it being "an anonymous coward" not reader. I haven't been on Slashdot as religiously the past year so I hope things haven't changed.

Slashdotted (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743388)

Somebody managed to save a copy of the image before this got published here: http://www.proxywhore.com/invboard/lofiversion/index.php/t205588.html [proxywhore.com]

Must love the third post (by leia)...

Re:Slashdotted (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743506)

If you're not happy clicking a link with the word "whore" in the link, here's one from a local US news website: http://www.ksee24.com/news/local/97450059.html [ksee24.com]

Re:Slashdotted (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743628)

As if the word "whore" hasn't been mentioned enough times [google.com.ua] here. (exactly 1700 if you don't want to click on the "enough times" syntagm).

I figured it would have spiced up the day of at least a few ./'ers... :-)

Re:Slashdotted (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743712)

I agree, that may have upset some people also, thanks. (though they should know where they come to get their news, heh)

Inner planets (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743496)

If there is a (probably) gas giant that far out I wonder what the likehood is of any smaller planets inside that planet's orbit(?)

Other Direct Images of Exoplanets Exist (4, Informative)

rwllama (587787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743536)

There are several direct images of exoplanets available. Hubble took one of a planet around Fomalhaut, which was announced the same day that Keck announced three planets around HR 8799 (Nov 13, 2008). The next week, ESO announced a possible planet around Beta Pictoris, which has recently been confirmed. What these folks at Gemini are saying is that they announced a possible direct image earlier in 2008, which they have now confirmed, so theirs was really the first. It is a game of "who got the first direct image of a planet around another star?". It doesn't really matter, but it is very cool that we can now directly see not only the 8 planets in our solar system, but also at least 6 more in other solar systems. At some pivotal point in the near future we will have more pictures of planets outside our solar system than within it!

This proves one thing.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32743558)

That God wants American voters to support the Republican candidate in Idaho this November.

Things that make you go hmmmm.... (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743586)

If we can see their Uranus, can they see ours?

Quite a size (1)

gborland (602893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743622)

Wow, that star is only 1" diameter, and they still managed to photograph it across all those light years? THAT's impressive!

Re:Quite a size (1)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743746)

What's worse is those poor, crispy aliens living on the planet; they're orbiting only 1 inch away from their star!

Kepler? (1)

zoso1132 (1303697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743636)

Why does the text say all other observed planets have been discovered using the "wobble" method? Have we forgotten Kepler and COROT?!

Re:Kepler? (1)

rwllama (587787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743920)

Yes, the text is wrong. There are several methods for detecting the presence of an exoplanet, though the "wobble" (aka radial velocity) method has so far been the dominant one. One can also other methods like transits (like Kepler), astrometry, gravitational lensing, and pulsar timing. After Kepler has completed its mission, there will likely be more planets detected by transits than by any other method.

HMMM. (1)

Dr.D.IS.GREAT (1249946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743686)

Maybe we should be careful which planets we take pictures of. If star trek ever taught me anything, most xenofolk dont like their picture taken!

Who writes this stuff? (2, Informative)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743904)

> first ever alien planet actually photographed...

Well, technically this is not the first alien planet photographed. That honor would probably go to Venus. However, this is the first exoplanet ever photographed, but it's old news since the first photographs of Fomalhaut's planet were taken in 2008...

Slow news day or something???

How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (2, Insightful)

io333 (574963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32743972)

I've been wondering for twenty years at least: how big a telescope do we need to build, in space, or on the dark side of the moon, or even on earth, to see cities on an earthlike planet somewhere out there?

And why are we not building one instead of wasting all the money on welfare, manned space exploration of a our mostly dead solar system, and more missiles so we can blow this place earth up even more times than we already can (I think we destroy the earth up to 6 times now?)

The main problem with our space program is that for 100 years we've been stuck with the rocket equation and 2% at best payloads. Ion engines give a little more hope for an interstellar probe someday...

If we found some more living earths out there, maybe our best and brightest might expend their brainpower on coming up with a better engine for space travel, rather than investment banking and law.

So how big a telescope do we need? Let's start building it!

Re:How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (1)

rwllama (587787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744056)

Take a look at the ATLAST [stsci.edu] concept for a telescope that could be launched in the 2025-2030 timeframe. It comes closest to what you are looking for.

Re:How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (1)

io333 (574963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744176)

ATLAST is interesting, it will detect "signatures" of life. That's not what I'm talking about, I'm thinking something that could look at a planet 100 light years away and photograph "people" (!) walking around on the streets? Can somebody calculate how big it would have to be? Say it's 500 meters... well then let's just build a 500 meter scope of some sort and put it on the moon, or wherever. It would be the greatest technological challenge of all time maybe, but with the greatest rewards of knowledge of all time too!

Re:How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (3, Informative)

rwllama (587787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744546)

OK - Here's the math ...

100 light-years = 1 quadrillion kilometers -- You want a 1 meter resolution at that distance, so you need an angular resolution alpha, where tan(alpha) = 1 / 10^18 --> alpha = 5.7 x 10^-17 degrees

Let's use Hubble as a scaling proxy. It has a 2.5 meter mirror and 1/20th of an arc second resolution. Converting units, that resolution is 1 / (20*60*60) = 1.4 x 10^-5 degrees. Now, simply scale to get the desired resolution and you have the diameter of the mirror = 2.5 * 1.4 x 10^-5 / 5.7 x 10^-17

The diameter you want is 614 million kilometers, or more than 4 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. Good luck building that.

Re:How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (1)

nu1x (992092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744642)

I don't know how big, but my guess would be non-engineerable in current day means (think Ringworld complexity and resources). Also, at that hypothetical resolution, I would guess cosmic dust (H+ ions) would severely obstruct your view. Just guessing based on my intuition - someone could calculate the theoretical mirror size needed for that, as say, for 1 telescope image pixel needed for 1 1 meter ET display. 500 meters ? I think not :P

Re:How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744262)

I think just to be able to see footprints on the moon left by the astronauts you would need a lens about 1800 feet in diameter. I'm sure someone smarter than me can give a better answer, but the gist is that you would need one huge fucking telescope to see cities on a planet outside of our solar system. Bigger than we could probably ever build.

Maybe an array of large telescopes, but I think you're still asking a lot.

Re:How big a telescope do we need to see cities? (1)

Sygnus (83325) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744640)

I think the closest we'll get to seeing cities on alien worlds through a telescope anytime soon (as in the next century or two), is by observing city lights on the night side of the planet.

Why bother (3, Interesting)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744598)

When I went to click on this link, I told myself "This better not just be another glowing dot". As usual, I was severely disappointed.

Also, 500 Light Years?

So even if we achieve FTL travel it's gonna be 40 lifetimes before we get there, not including the time to send any information back? This is where potential space travel funding is going?

Very sad.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32744764)

Agreed. And when I clicked on the link, I expected to see a *planet*. What I got was ...

A planet outside of our solar system, said to be the first ever directly photographed by telescopes on Earth, has been officially confirmed to be orbiting a sun-like star, according to follow-up observations.

The alien planet is eight times the mass of Jupiter and orbits at an unusually great distance from its host star -- more than 300 times farther from the star than our Earth is from the sun. ... The planet has an estimated temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit

Um, we already have a name for a massive sun-like star ... it's called a star. The fact that orbits another star doesn't make it somehow a planet. Am I missing something here?

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