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Astronomers Get Picture of Nearby Exoplanet

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the howdy-neighbor dept.

Space 24

The Bad Astronomer writes "While nearly a thousand planets are known to orbit other stars, getting direct pictures of them is extremely difficult due to the glare from their host stars. Fewer than a dozen images of exoplanets exist. However, we can now add one more to the list: Kappa Andromedae b, or Kap And b for short. It's about 170 light years away, and orbits Kappa And, a massive star bright enough to see with the naked eye. One hitch: its mass puts it right at the upper limit for a planet, and it may edge into brown dwarf territory. Further observations are needed to pin its mass down."

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Exotic (2, Funny)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42030789)

Just like out of this world, man.

Re:Exotic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42030951)

Thanks Rainbow Guy.

2012 and slashdot still doesn't do Unicode. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42031077)

2012 and slashdot still doesn't do Unicode. This is so incredibly embarrassing for a site that once was considered nerdy. Just lame.

Re:2012 and slashdot still doesn't do Unicode. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42032417)

In the 80's we had a golden opportunity to establish a world wide universal alphabet, and we blew it.

this had better not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42031193)

be another overly-elaborate "yo mamma so fat" joke, slashdot.

Re:this had better not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42031511)

Further observations are needed to pin its mass down.

In Physics, mass pins YOU down!

Re:this had better not (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031781)

Pay no attention to that brown dwarf behind the sun.

Re:this had better not (2)

xevioso (598654) | about a year and a half ago | (#42033407)

Wait..um...I got it!

Lessee...

"Yo Mama so fat when aliens look at earth through a telescope, they gotta use a coronagraph to block out yo mama's ASS."

How bout that? What do I win?

Kappa Andromedae (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42031321)

Would it kill you to type 7 more letters? "Kappa And" just looks stupid

captcha: literate

Re:Kappa Andromedae (0)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031447)

I agree, it's silly to shorten it that way. "K-Andromeda" would be a better abbreviation.

Re:Kappa Andromedae (4, Informative)

BattleApple (956701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031537)

Even "K And b" seems better to me.. which is what is actually printed in the article. (Not Kap And B)

Re:Kappa Andromedae (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42031743)

No, in the article it is written correctly with a greek Kappa. But it's 2012 and slashdot is still too lame to support Unicode, even in the fucking summary. What a complete embarrassment.

Re:Kappa Andromedae (2)

BattleApple (956701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42032181)

I meant that the summary replaces the unicode "K" from the article with "Kap". Why didn't they just use a capital K?

And I agree. Not supporting unicode is ridiculous. If they're worried about people spamming unicode art in the comments, I don't think it would be that difficult to extend the lameness filter. Even allowing a limited number of unicode characters per post would be better than nothing.

Re:Kappa Andromedae (1)

scared masked man (2776663) | about a year and a half ago | (#42034513)

IIRC they removed unicode support after people started spamming RTL control codes and breaking the layout.

I think HTML5 (or possibly just WHAT WG HTML) specifies different rules for handling bidirectional text in sections of pages (something along the lines of returning to the previous direction when leaving some DOM elements), but they could hack up a working solution by sticking a LTR override at the end of every comment.

Exciting times (5, Insightful)

meetpi (2776369) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031509)

It is a really exciting time in astronomy at the moment, a real age of discovery. As the article points out, it was not so many years ago that we didn't even know if exoplanets existed, and now we know about nearly 1000 of them. Our detection methods, while clever are pretty limited. They all tend to bias discoveries to certain kinds of planets and star systems, so it's reasonable to expect that the typical star system is a bit different than our current database would suggest.

But what's exciting to me is that our imaging technologies are improving all the time, both through better optics and computer assisted imaging (eg: adaptive optics which can offset much of the distortion caused by the Earth's atmosphere). This means that there's an excellent chance that before long we'll be able to start getting more detail about these systems, possibly including analysis of light from some of the planets which will tell us what kind of gases are in their atmospheres. In my lifetime we may even be able to answer the question of whether life exists on other planets (not necessarily intelligent life, but any life would be a momentous discovery).

All in all, it's a great time to be alive: I think of it as the dawn of an age of discovery. If you're into exoplanet discoveries and you have an iPad, I'd highly recommend the Exoplanet app (I am not affiliated with it in any way, it's just a cool little app).

why they are different? (3)

physlord (1790264) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031769)

I'm nothing but a casual aficionado, so may be this is a silly question but:

Why do the astronomers distinguish between giants planets and brown dwarfs?. For instance, Jupiter and Saturn irradiate more energy than the amount they receive from the sun, so the "innocuity" wouldn't be a good criteria. Them both are made mainly of hydrogen or helium, so be made of "star-material" will not help to classification criteria either. Some brown dwarfs orbit around stars, so orbiting will no help.

So, other than naming a specific factor size-mass of the planet. What is the real purpose of the classification?

Re:why they are different? (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42031931)

The answer is in TFA. It isn't just heat, but fusion. At 13-14 times Jupiter's mass, there is a nuclear burn, but only with deuterium and it doesn't burn long. Brown Dwarfs are also called "failed stars". In short, it's a big planet that started fusing deuterium until the deuterium ran out.

Size: Jupiter x ~12 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42032065)

Now, can we stop fighting over imaginary lines drawn on a map?

Too bad (2)

lordmetroid (708723) | about a year and a half ago | (#42032391)

Sadly the image seems a little bit out of focus as well as zoomed out way too much to see any details. Hire a photographer next time!

Re:Too bad (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42038843)

Sadly the image seems a little bit out of focus as well as zoomed out way too much to see any details.
Hire a photographer next time!

Just Photoshop it afterwards, being careful to get the shadows right!

I'd like to name my next child. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42032653)

..the name of this photographed exoplanet. Welcome to Earth, 2MASSWJ1207334-3932b. Can't we just call it Malcom Exo?

Hey everybody, it's phucking phil plait! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42032815)

That's right, he's back to astroturf Slashdot for cheap page hits again but he won't bother with your questions. For Phil it's all about the money.. the page hits. He wants nothing to do with anyone who isn't shoveling cash into his pockets.
 
For your edification.... A much better source for astronomy news. [phys.org]

Re:Hey everybody, it's phucking phil plait! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42034597)

So we should go from one blog to another blog? Why not just start going to Arxiv or to one of the astronomy journals and get it straight from the source? Or is it important for you to shovel cash into someone else's pockets?

Re:Hey everybody, it's phucking phil plait! (1)

Maritz (1829006) | about a year and a half ago | (#42051205)

The AC doesn't like Phil. I kinda did, but not now that I know he wants lots of hits on his blog.
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