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Astronomers Find Three Exoplanets In Old Hubble Images

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ok-where-did-you-see-them-last dept.

NASA 48

The Bad Astronomer writes "Using new software techniques on Hubble data from 1998, astronomers have teased out direct images of three planets orbiting the Sun-like star HR 8799, 130 light years away. These planets were discovered in 2008 using a different telescope, but had been sitting in the Hubble pictures this whole time, invisible due to their proximity to the bright star. Many other images of other stars are available, so it's entirely possible more planets will be found in this way."

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48 comments

This has what to do with Steve Jobs? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37630622)

YOU INSENSITIVE CLODS!

Re:This has what to do with Steve Jobs? (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631058)

I think the new camera on the 4S made it possible to image planets directly.

Re:This has what to do with Steve Jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631326)

I think the new camera on the 4S made it possible to image planets directly.

No, but if they had released the 5 instead of the 4S it would have!

Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 2 years ago | (#37630630)

How does that help?

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37630766)

It's a way to verify that your method of finding them works. This of course also implies trying the method on stars you believe not to have planets. Next, they can run their algorithm on imagery of other stars to see if they can find planets there. Re-read the last sentence of TFSummary for that:

Many other images of other stars are available, so it's entirely possible more planets will be found in this way.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 2 years ago | (#37630848)

I don't need to re-read the summary. If you RTFA it shows hubble data this did not originally confirm planets. Run your algorithms on the old hubble data and tell me how you get a full confirmation of an undiscovered planet without verifying it with our new techniques. If you can't, then it only serves as verification- not really finding new planets at all.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631158)

You just don't understand. These new techniques are either verified or have substantial backing to working (including this data point which has been verified). That means that this technique is a viable method to find other planets on other pictures. Even if it does contain false positives, furthur investigations on those new findings can yield new results. It's ALOT easier to focus your attention onto a single point in space considering how vast it is. That means, no matter what, these new techniques on hubble's old images has MERIT and that's all that matters when you are talking about science. Small progress is still progress! After all, we have a collection trove of data from the hubble, bringing more value to it is only a plus since it only requires extra processing rather then new equipment.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (3, Informative)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631216)

I actually read the articles. Gasp! Turns out that new techniques allow for seeing the planets in the old data. ie, new data reduction/filtering methodologies improve the results coming out of the old pictures.

1) this allows for a second source for confirmation of any suspected planets
2) it allows for viewing orbits immediately across a multi-year span
3) the validation of the new techniques allows for all the Hubble data to be analyzed anew with potentially much different results than the first time around.

Think of this as looking at a drop of pond water with your eye, a magnifying glass, and then a series of pictures taken through the magnifying glass at different angles and putting together a 3-D representation of the drop in a computer.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631278)

None of this involves finding new planets, only verifying, thus nullifying the title of the post. The implication that the planets were "FOUND" in the hubble data is misleading because they had already been found elsewhere.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631442)

Dumb much?

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631470)

None of this involves finding new planets, only verifying, thus nullifying the title of the post. The implication that the planets were "FOUND" in the hubble data is misleading because they had already been found elsewhere.

True, in this instance it does not involve finding new planets.

However the method of analyzing old Hubble pictures could reveal new exoplanet candidates, which could be verified with some other method. And then it would be a method of finding new planets. Which I can believe will happen, and would be cool.

The title is still misleading, though. It is technically correct (the planets were found in old hubble images, and today i found my house in Google Maps -- just not for the first time). But contrary to what some jackass once said, being technically correct is not the best kind of correct. :)

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631552)

The fact that you know something is in a picture doesn't mean that you didn't find it in the image. Find the object in the picture is an entire genre of games. Have you never heard of "Where's Waldo?" The object is to "Find" Waldo in every picture.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37630768)

I'm sure they can use the technique to find others. But even if not- having Hubble "confirm" other telescope's findings is valuable too.

It's great to find something... it's even better to confirm you really did.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

Eevee (535658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631008)

It allows a better calculation of the orbits, since there's a ten year difference in the images.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631102)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 2002, a little boy named Jerry was walking down the sidewalk. Then, he spotted a large, spooky-looking house with a foggy graveyard in the backyard. He decided to climb over the fence and go into the graveyard.

However, this soon proved to be a mistake. Soon after he entered the graveyard, all of his clothes vanished and he could no longer move a single cheek! Suddenly, he was somehow looking at the back of himself as if he was looking through a security camera. He could see his bootyass from this position.

That's when Jerry noticed that his cheeks were covered in graveyard fog. They were completely white! Then, Jerry noticed that a lick mark appeared on his left cheek, accompanied by the following sound: "alim tsk tsk!" It sounded almost like a whisper. Then more of the lick marks started appearing! The invisible entity slurping his cheeks shifted between his left and right cheek and got closer to his bootyasscheekcrack with each slurp! Finally, the lick marks reached his bootyasscheekcrack, and he felt something fly into his bootyasscheekcrackhole.

That's when it happened. Jerry's bootyass became something else entirely. It became nothing more than a rumblehouse bootyass! Something began bouncing around inside of his bootyass and using his bootyass as a bouncehouse! It inflicted extreme amounts of tickle upon his bootyass!

Now that you have read this (even a single word of it), the same invisible entity will aloomper your cheeks and then use your bootyass as a bouncehouse (thereby inflicting extreme amounts of tickle upon it)! To prevent this from happening, post this curse as a comment three times.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (2)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631168)

It's official, slashdot now has worse commenters than youtube.

Re:Easy to find when you know it is there. (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631528)

Now? Slashdot invented copypasta trolls long before 4chan or fark or youtube existed! The joke was old when the GNAA trolls were around, and they've been gone long enough that most /.ers haven't seen one. I guess the even the copypasta trolls about Tacos sex life are now gone the way of OOK THE OPEN SOURCE CAVE MAN (killed by the lameness filter, may he RIP). The "Steven King found dead" copypasta was used for the /. announcement of Steve Jobs death, so established is the tradition.

I dont get it... (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37630724)

Planets are just hard to find or astronomers think they are rare phenomena in the universe?

What I don't get.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37630784)

What I don't get is why every time somebody finds a planet, it makes the front page.

We know there are many stars. We know that many stars have orbiting planets.

Unless there's something special about a particular planet, I don't care.

Re:What I don't get.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631222)

Because for thousands of years of written history very few planets were known to exist. Nearly 100 billion people have lived and died on this planet without knowing there were 8 planets in their own solar system, much less knowing that there is the potential for there being an incomprehensible amount in our galaxy alone. Soon these discoveries will seem less and less important, but for now people still get excited when a new planet is discovered.

Re:What I don't get.. (1)

mcswell (1102107) | more than 2 years ago | (#37655718)

Not only that, but some people lived and died thinking there were *9* planets in our solar system!

Re:What I don't get.. (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631610)

What I don't get is why every time somebody finds a planet, it makes the front page. We know there are many stars. We know that many stars have orbiting planets.

About 23 years ago - 19 since we didn't really believe the 1988 discovery at first - we didn't know a single damn one. Not how many, not what sizes, not what orbits, nothing. Granted there's 688 of them by now and we don't need every single one hitting the front page, but this is groundbreaking science in progress. We've discovered more in the last 20 years than in the 60 years before that since we found Pluto. We're now looking for Earth-like planets in Earth-like solar systems, IMO that's probably the most interesting thing in astronomy since... well, ever. Stars? Great, but nothing lives on stars. But we do know at least one form of carbon-based life that lives on planets. Or well, one planet. But if you don't like it I'm sure there's sites with more celebrity gossip and less science reporting. As far as I'm concerned this is good old fashioned news for nerds. There's plenty covering the mainstream stuff.

Re:What I don't get.. (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631818)

As far as I'm concerned this is good old fashioned news for nerds. There's plenty covering the mainstream stuff.

I agree, wholeheartedly!

For that matter, I'm not an astronomer, but I'll be damned if I don't find the search for earth-like planets more interesting than anything I'm doing...To think that in my lifetime the first potential life-bearers outside our solar system might be found...well, if I can't take a ride on a spaceship, then at least suspecting we're not alone will do.

Re:What I don't get.. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638400)

I have an app with an exoplanet database. Every so often it goes "boop" and announces a new exoplanet has been detected and added to the database. It's like having a stock ticker for human awesomeness.

Re:What I don't get.. (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631644)

We know there are many stars. We know that many stars have orbiting planets.

Unless there's something special about a particular planet, I don't care.

No, no, we don't actually know how many stars have orbiting planets. This is still a very "open" question in astronomy. I know the first exoplanet was discovered very recently, maybe even less than 5 years ago. (AFAIK there's always been reason to suspect many planets exist. But general deduction gives none of the specifics.)

Just because every science fiction story out there (practically) assumes many planetary systems doesn't mean actual, empirical evidence of extra solar planets has been around long.

Re:What I don't get.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631670)

Perspective.

I'm guessing you don't remember it, but it wasn't that long ago - only 23 years - that people were still speculating *if* there were exoplanets. Today there have been nearly 700 discovered, and only the different or interesting ones are mentioned - e.g. "used a new technique" or "might be like Earth" or "Really weird and unlikely" get much attention. But for no few /.ers, exoplanets are pretty incredible.

Re:What I don't get.. (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634576)

What I don't get is why every time somebody finds a planet, it makes the front page.

It doesn't. Not by a long shot. The vast majority of planetary discoveries are never even mentioned on /. or anyone else's front page. What makes the front page is when the discovery is unusual in some way. If you actually read the article (or, for that matter, the summary), you'd understand what exact about this story is news. Hint: It's not that a planet has been discovered.

Re:I dont get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37630882)

Actually, I believe newer thinking is that practically every star should have planets. They're just dark, remember? So the only way you can see them is either in how they affect the motion of a star via gravity, or if they actually pass in front of it and block some of the light.

Re:I dont get it... (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37630934)

Planets are just hard to find or astronomers think they are rare phenomena in the universe?

You need to go to a club and whisper this question to somebody facing away from you on the other side of the room.

Re:I dont get it... (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 2 years ago | (#37632226)

"Intensive purposes" are not a thing. You mean "intents and purposes." And "who cares?" is the correct form of the question: "who" is nominative, "whom" is accusative. Who cares? I care. You annoyed whom? You annoyed me.

Re:I dont get it... (2)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633420)

"Intensive purposes" are not a thing. You mean "intents and purposes." And "who cares?" is the correct form of the question: "who" is nominative, "whom" is accusative. Who cares? I care. You annoyed whom? You annoyed me.

I could care less. People will get the gist of these bits of phraseology, irregardless of what is technically correct.

Re:I dont get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633948)

I could care less. People will get the gist of these bits of phraseology, irregardless of what is technically correct.

I didn't the gist of that phraseology at all. The tag line of istartedi just doesn't make sense. It's like one of those Japanese t-shirts in English; the words are spelled correctly, but the sentence is inane. By the way "irregardless" isn't correct either. So, you're either making a clever joke, or you have a poor command of English.

Re:I dont get it... (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633966)

By the way "irregardless" isn't correct either. So, you're either making a clever joke, or you have a poor command of English.

Decisions, decisions. . .

Re:I dont get it... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634554)

I could care less. People will get the gist of these bits of phraseology, irregardless of what is technically correct.

Eye sea watt ewe meen.

Re:I dont get it... (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631170)

The interesting part is it is a "new" method to tease information out of old data. What this implies is that astronomers might be able to get clear pictures of other solar systems because they'll have records of where the planets they see now were relative to each other (and the star) in old data. So previously we were only able to see the recent pictures, telling us there were planets there. Now we'll be able to map out the orbits of what we see. That's kinda cool

Re:I dont get it... (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631422)

it is cool, but I think we should expect planets it say... 90% of solar systems...

Re:I dont get it... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633210)

At the risk of being pedantic, can you have a solar system without planets? After all, I thought a solar system consists of a star and one or more planets.

And, while I'm being a jerk, should it be a "stellar system" as solar refers to the sun?

Re:I dont get it... (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635798)

Naw, you're not a jerk, you just don't know what you are talking about :) Stellar system is a small number of stars which orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. And about being pedantic, that's the good point, but I am not sure if all the stars in the universe have planetary systems? probably not, but I guess we will never know that for sure, so lets assume that substantial number of stars have their own planetary systems.

Probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631234)

another gay planet like Uranus, just hoping a black hole comes its way. I bet its a very orderly and manicured one though.

What's the algorithm like? (1)

xyourfacekillerx (939258) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631762)

I wish they would have discussed the software and algorithms a bit more than "subtracting the star's light". Oh well.

Re:What's the algorithm like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37632790)

The full paper is available here. [hubblesite.org] It has a substantial section on "data processing and methods for astrometry," which again has further references regarding the algorithms used, e.g. (Lafreniere et al. 2007b; in ApJ (= Astrophysical Journal), 660, 770). The paper should be enough to keep you busy for an hour or so (and it has pretty, scientific pictures visualizing the process), the references should be enough for the rest of the year.

HST NICMOS (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634650)

The unprocessed image looks like it would make a great explosion sprite for a 16-bit era game.

Gonna get busy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634898)

The private space housing business will boom in a few years, mark my words! It's the future.

Exo-planets orbitting exo-suns? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637010)

I'm happy to keep pointing out the ludicrous nature of the exo-word as long as marketeers keep using it.

Side on view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637556)

This is very cool and extremely interesting.
This exposes a star with a set of planets that would not have been detected with the transit method.
It make me wonder how many systems from our perspective we are seeing from the top err or bottom depending which one you like.
Does systems orbital pains fluctuate

This IS very cool!

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