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Hubble Snaps Photo of Extrasolar Planet

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.

Space 232

iamlucky13 writes "Space.com has reported that a Hubble Space Telescope photo supports with a very high degree of confidence that a picture taken by the European Space Observatory does indeed show an extrasolar planet. As many readers know, planets outside our solar system are typically found by watching for wobbles in a star's orbit or for dimming caused by the planet crossing in front of its star. The ESO and Hubble images would represent the 1st and 2nd times that planets outside our solar system have been directly detected. The planet is about 5 times as massive as Jupiter and orbits a brown dwarf a little farther out than Pluto orbits our own sun."

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I HATE ALL OF YOU! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320043)

Go to hell please!

Love Always,
News For Turds

Re:I HATE ALL OF YOU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320644)

And I always thought extrasolar civilizations would be friendly :-\

Nothing to see here... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320044)

I went to the linked article, and slashdot was right!

Indeed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320058)

After the christmas festivities, I discovered the only way to find my belly button was to carefully watch the wobbles in my new layers of flab.

If we can do it twice... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320066)

So...why don't we do this more often?

Minor correction (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320068)

The ESO is the European Southern Observatory, not Space Observatory.

Re:Minor correction (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320083)

Yes because it's not only used to observe space but also to zoom in on the hot chicks down at the beach.

Re:Minor correction (0)

myom (642275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320110)

In Europe the hot chicks work AT the space obseravtories and other labs. :D

Re:Minor correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320101)

Maybe someone was thinkg about European Space Agency [esa.int] (ESA).

Re:Minor correction (1)

dearreid (816051) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320808)

And what, exactly, is a "Comapanion"? Look at the picture... I think they mean "companion". Scientists can't spell.

Sounds like (3, Insightful)

JJ (29711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320071)

. . . not so much like Vulcan as a failed binary star system.

Still if we can get pictures of something five times bigger than Jupiter at this distance . . .

Re:Sounds like (4, Interesting)

DeathByDuke (823199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320123)

Still if we can get pictures of something five times bigger than Jupiter at this distance . . .

Imagine a upgraded Hubble or Hubble II.... the implications of photographing and analysing planets and their atmospheres (by measuring the light sprectrum or even photographing it) could be enormous. Imagine one snapping a Earth type.

Though it'd give fire to the people opposing interstellar travel ('why go there and waste a lot of money when we can photograph it safely from here?'). At least we'd be able to handpick targets for future interstellar probes, rather than firing them blindly at a star and possibly getting nothing. I am hugely fascinated by this, and it shows the value of Hubble and why we must keep it, and the design itself.

Re:Sounds like (5, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320150)

Are there really that many people who oppose interstellar travel? Wouldn't we have to prove it is feasible first before people really started worrying about the cost? We haven't even figured out how to get to Mars and back in a reasonable fashion yet.

Re:Sounds like (1)

DeathByDuke (823199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320184)

and still people moan and worry about the costs and risks of that.... theres always some. It'll just take some convincing to sway them that its a good idea (or actually doing it). And the money and risk is worth it. Some people oppose the idea of travelling around through paranoia. What if we meet aliens? Will they be hostile? What if a ship picks up a contagion? etc etc. Ah well. If it happens, it happens.

Re:Sounds like (4, Insightful)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320252)

If they can gaurantee me an atmosphere to breathe - as the saying goes "Beam me up Scotty" - I wanna go. It would be an adventure of a lifetime. Yea I would spend years in space - but the end result might just be worth it (especially if they create a big enough space ship that contains the population of a small town). Ok this sounds geeky and far fetched - but why not? The only thing stopping us is greed and fear.

Re:Sounds like (1)

Ayaress (662020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320816)

Assuming you live to see the result (short trip/hibernation) and don't just end up living in a much more cramped version of any given city on Earth for the rest of your life.

Re:Sounds like (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320942)

hence an atmosphere i can breath. If i can survive in the outdoors of this planet I won't have to worry about living in a tiny little sanctuary.

Re:Sounds like (2, Insightful)

VanillaCoke420 (662576) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320358)

There's a much greater risk for a lot more people if we continue developing new ways to kill as many of us as possible, than if we decide to go to the stars. But that's just me.

Re:Sounds like (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320931)


  • There's a much greater risk for a lot more people if we continue developing new ways to kill as many of us as possible, than if we decide to go to the stars. But that's just me.

All those movies where Earth faces attack by aliens with superior technology? Maybe it is humans who will be those evildoers someday.

Still, building a better hubble would be cool. I would love to see the pictures.

Re:Sounds like (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320978)

there's people who oppose fucking everything. :)

or maybe they think that they'll live forever. judge from the past 1000 years and think what stuff we might have 1000 years from now.. I'd leave worrying to the later generations with the actual tech to maybe do something.

Re:Sounds like (3, Interesting)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320236)

Imagine a upgraded Hubble or Hubble II....

Forgot what series it was (I think it was some six part BBC series) but the idea is to have a satellite array out in space, similar to how they have ground based arrays. They would be aligned via laser. They made it sound like this was something that was going to be done sometime around 2015, or so.

The implications were that they would then be able to see earth sized planets directly, and possibly even be able to analyze the atmosphere of the planet.

Re:Sounds like (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320800)

So basically, it works like Captain Planet?

grainy! (2, Funny)

dioscaido (541037) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320077)

how many megapixels does the hubble have?

Re:grainy! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320765)

"2 butted 2048 × 4096, 15 m/pixel CCD detectors"

So it is 16MP for the wide field camera, less for others.

photo (0)

PoopJuggler (688445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320082)

If you ask me, the word "photo" in that summary should have been a hyperlink...

orbit (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320085)

I read on MSNBC that the orbit was 30 times as far out from the brown dwarf. Not the "little farther out than Pluto orbits" that is reported.

"It orbits the brown dwarf star at about 30 times farther than Pluto is from our sun."

Re:orbit - MSNBC appears to have misquoted (4, Informative)

tinytim (25110) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320197)

The MSNBC cites the space.com article as its source, and the space.com article states:
"It orbits the brown dwarf star at about 30 percent farther than Pluto is from our Sun."

Re:orbit - MSNBC appears to have misquoted (0)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320248)

No, MSNBC Is NEVER wrong!

There Were Klingons Around... (1)

Dagny Taggert (785517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320092)

...ahh, never mind.

Re:There Were Klingons Around... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320419)

<sigh> Again with the Klingons...

Its always such a disapointment (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320107)

when you see these photos. I know its a tremendous achievement but when you see a whole planet and it still looks like a little pixelated blob then its hard to match the achievement to what you are actually viewing.

Even stars are just pixalated blobs (1)

amstrad (60839) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320240)

As far as stars go, only Betelgeuse [nasa.gov] is large enough and close enough to get (slightly) more than a pixelated pinpoint. And stars tend to be bigger than planets.

Re:Its always such a disapointment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320325)

Ah, the MTV generation has come of age... When I was young, we'd look at a little pixelate blob and get all excited about the green aliens that would spew out of that blob and cross the galaxies in their weird organic spaceships and invade our sweet planet, enslaving everybody (and not just the commies either), just because we dared point our telescopes at them.

Nowadays, the kids look at a blob and say "yeah but there's still no proof of any extra-terrestrial life, and even if there was some, it'll take them centuries to travel to Earth, and even then they'd most likely be peaceful..." boring!

Re:Its always such a disapointment (4, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320786)

MTV generation indeed. A generation I'm part of and disgusted by, in large part.

Part of the problem, of course, is that NASA takes 80 billion photos of large, interstellar objects like massive galaxies, none of which actually show the large object as it actually appears (or, in most cases, DOESN'T appear). Then, they combine all their infrared and this radiation that radiation images into one big, purty, inaccurate public "photo" that makes everyone go "ooooh ahhhh" when, in fact, the object actually looks nothing like the photo the press was given.

Then, when people see the real pictures they go "what the hell is this pixelated blob? If this planet is so big and so close [relative to the aforementioned large object] why can't I see little green men waving to me on it?"

Re:Its always such a disapointment (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320926)

Considering the distances involved, I'm suprised we get anything distinct enough at such distances to even be recognizable as a sphere. I mean, think about it.

Light travels 184,282.4 miles/sec.
This system is 225 light years away
That puts this system at a physical distance of 22 trillion miles (roughly).

Close is relative. We can't yet see a quark, but it would take that same kind of magnification power in order to see the surface of another planet from here. And that's likely a best case situation. Guess what happens when you have all manner of crap in the way, such as dust clouds, micro black holes (if they exist), normal black holes, stars in close proximity to our line of sight, or other garbage we don't yet know about? It distorts the image pretty badly.

Eventually, we'll probably figure out some way to do it. For now, though, be content with solving the question of "are there really other planets out there?" (should be a 'duh' answer, but apparently it isn't to those that need proof or have blind faith we are in some way unique in this universe)

Re:Its always such a disapointment (2, Interesting)

VanillaCoke420 (662576) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320457)

Actually for me it's the opposite. I know that there was a time, during my own lifetime (and I'm just 27) when astronomers couldn't detect exoplanets by any means, even indirect means. And now finally... we get a tiny glimpse of an exoplanet for the first time. For me it's amazing to think that we finally have that technology to actually see something so tiny that is so far away. I think that it's the fact that it's just a few pixels that makes it the more fantastic, that is, it's on the edge of our technological horizon. And I know it will get better, and fast too. Within a few decades we will be able to see Earth sized planets, I am sure of it. This is truly something to celebrate!

Probability (3, Interesting)

asliarun (636603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320109)

From the article:-
"University of Arizona astronomer Glenn Schneider, who led the new study, said he's 99.1 percent sure the object is in orbit around the brown dwarf."

How does one calculate the probability of accuracy and arrive at an exact figure like 99.1%? I mean, isn't this self-contradictory, or am i missing something?

Re:Probability (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320223)

I presume they took their data, and from that created a probability cone of where it was going, not unlike the recent comet thing. And of that probability cone, 99,1% would lead to an orbit around the brown dwarf.

If I have a random number between 0 and 100 (probability cone), I can be 99,1% sure it'll be within 0 and 99,1 (in orbit). I assume they can pretty exactly determine the "band" in which objects would stay in orbit.

Re:Probability (3, Insightful)

arodland (127775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320239)

The science of statistics is basically all about saying how sure you are about things. For example, "given this set of data from the sample group, there's a 95% chance that the mean number of slashdotters per household worldwide lies between 0.15 and 0.23," or "Given these sets of measured position and velocity vectors, and their uncertainties, there is an 0.23% chance that object X's path will intersect with the earth's in the year 2038."

So perhaps they've taken a number of (extremely lo-res, I'm sure) measurements of the path of body X around star Y, and found that given the degree of certainty of their measurements, then there's a 99.1% chance that body X's velocity is consistent with orbit, but an 0.9% chance that all the errors stacked up the wrong way and it's really just speeding by in a hyperbolic orbit or something like that.

Re:Probability (1)

asliarun (636603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320413)

Thanks.

It does make sense now.

Re:Probability (1, Funny)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320479)

Don't you know that 58% of statistics are made up?

Re:Probability (4, Informative)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320626)

This is the kind of silliness that results when astronomers talk to the press.

Among ourselves, astronomers will talk about how many "sigma" a detection is, referring to how far above the Gaussian noise [wikipedia.org] the signal is. A 1-sigma detection is real 68% of the time. 2-sigma detections are real 95% of the time, 3-sigma data are 99.7% sure, etc. So, Glenn is just saying that the hypothesis that the brown dwarf and its candidate companion are actually moving together in space is supported by the data above the errors by about 2.5 sigma or so. With further observations, the errors will shrink, and it will then be above three sigma (assuming the hypothesis is correct).

But, Glenn can't talk about "sigmas" to the press, because, sadly, not everyone knows the wonders of the Gaussian normal distribution. So he does a quick conversion to probabilities for the press release. BTW, it is indeed possible to characterize errors to the tenth of a percent, especially when you are close to 100% confidence.

Get ready for more astronomy-related news this week; our annual society meeting (AAS) is taking place in San Diego.

Headline (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320112)

You gotta love the Register's headline for this story: "Extra-solar planet snapped by galactic paparazzi [theregister.com] ". I supposed they are looking at a big star, but... Anyway, gave me a chuckle.

Re:Headline (1)

Ours (596171) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320175)

I still prefer the subtitle to the headline: "Kinda blurry". At least it got my hopes to see a nice picture down a notch before looking at the pilexated mess that represents the planet. Well, maybe I should still have lowered my expectations. What can Can't expect much at this distances.

Re:Headline (1, Funny)

T-Kir (597145) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320238)

Naa, the blur is there to make the planet look artificially younger... you know, iron out all those wrinkles and signs of its real age. ;-)

Re:Headline (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320230)

One has to appreciate the irony of the Register, barely a tabloid rag at best, refering to anyone as "paparazzi".

5 times as massive? isn't it supposed to implode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320120)

I used to think that if Jupiter was any bigger, it would collapse under its own gravity to form a small star.

Something called the 'chandra limit' I think.

Any body with gyan on that?

oh.. 'gyan' in Sanskrit means 'knowledge/wisdom'..roughly..

Re:5 times as massive? isn't it supposed to implod (1)

Dagny Taggert (785517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320132)

I believe that the body has to be much, much larger than that...something on the order of 50 times larger than Jupiter.

High degree of confidence (1, Funny)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320148)

I took a photo on a beach this holiday, and I can with a high degree of confidence say I spotted something that looked like a girl in the distance. (I think she was running away though.)

Ok, so mod me off topic. :P

Anyways, it's hard to get excited about this. I mean, it's just a few pixels on a grainy image. I know I should be excited and all, but I'll hold on the enthusiasm until we're able to take a *real* picture of an extra-solar planet.

Re:High degree of confidence (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320774)

How many pixels does it take to make it a *real* picture?

Re:High degree of confidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320933)

Large enough so that you can stare at it, and be wowed while stoned. (ie neat patterns, etc)

Planet Finder (5, Informative)

KavanaghNY (246972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320155)

NASA is developing the Terrestrial Planet Finder [nasa.gov] which should discover and image even smaller extrasolar planets when it is launched in a few years. Sooner than that, the Kepler Mission [nasa.gov] "will survey the extended solar neighborhood to detect and characterize hundreds of terrestrial and larger planets in or near the "habitable zone," defined by scientists as the distance from a star where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface."

Re:Planet Finder (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320246)

And add to that Darwin [esa.int] .

Re:Planet Finder (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320547)

in or near the "habitable zone," defined by scientists as the distance from a star where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface."

The habitable zone is a rather out-of-date idea. Just look at our solar system: There is probably more liquid water all over the place - possibly in Jupiter's atmosphere as a result of internal heat, almost certainly under an ice layer on Europa and perhaps in a similar state on Callisto. Mercury has such a range of temperatures that liquid water is at least possible (although unlikely) somewhere on the planet.

Even extrasolar planets could have liquid water as a result of internal heat from radioactive decay if their atmospheres are thick enough to keep the heat in.

Yeah...so what? (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320156)

Sure it's interesting, but useless. I'd rather hear about a planet that is actually able to support human-type life or even humnas. Not a gigantic ball of gas orbiting a compressed sun that would suck your fillings out of your head from 10 light years away.

Re:Yeah...so what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320183)

yeah, so what is a humna ?

Re:Yeah...so what? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320213)

The planet candidate is about 1.5 times the diameter of Jupiter and about five times as massive.

Who said it was a ball of gas? The earth is four times denser than Jupiter, so this planet would be similar to the earth in density.

Dan East

Re:Yeah...so what? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320399)

Here are some calculations.

The planet candidate has 1.5 times the diameter of Jupiter, which means its volume is 2.25 greater. However it is 5 times as massive as Jupiter, so its density would have to be 2.222 times greater.

Earth is 4.16 times denser than Jupiter, so Earth is only 1.873 times denser than this new planet.

I think that's right. :)

Dan East

Re:Yeah...so what? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320460)

Okay, that's wrong.

The planet candidate has 3.375 times the volume of Jupiter (calculated the volume wrong). It is 5 times as massive, so its density is 1.48 times greater. Thus Earth is 2.8 times denser than this planet.

Dan East

Re:Yeah...so what? (1)

crumley (12964) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320501)

The planet candidate is about 1.5 times the diameter of Jupiter and about five times as massive. Who said it was a ball of gas? The earth is four times denser than Jupiter, so this planet would be similar to the earth in density.
Not quite.

Mass is proportional to volume, and this planet would have 3.4 times the volume of Jupiter. So its density would only be 1.5 times that of Jupiter. That higher density could easily be explained by having the same composition as Jupiter, just more tightly packed due to this planet's higher gravity. The differences between this planet and Jupiter are probably similar to the differences between Jupiter and Saturn.

Re:Yeah...so what? (-1, Redundant)

Arkahn (14759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320608)


I, for one, welcome our new heavy-gravity overlords.

---
Q. "What do you do?"
A. "Oh ... I'm a programmer."

Q. "In what languages?"
A. "Oh ... HTML mostly"

Re:Yeah...so what? (1)

SnapShot (171582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320603)

The formula for volume is 4/3 * pi * r^3.

If the radius is 1.5 the radius of Jupiter then the volume is over three and a third times Jupiter's (1:3.375). The density is therefore only slightly greater than Jupiter's (and probably due to the relatively higher gravity). My opinion (which is worth what you paid for it) is that this is a star that didn't quite make it.

Re:Yeah...so what? (1)

VanillaCoke420 (662576) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320329)

Well we can't do all the cool things we want to do right away. We have to take it in steps. One day we will be able to produce rough maps of Earth sized exoplanets - but not today. What the article describes is one step closer to that goal.

Re:Yeah...so what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320792)

You've got it wrong. It would suck the paint off your house and give your family a permanent orange afro.

Houston we have a problem. (1)

Fizzlewhiff (256410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320166)

It looks like the picture of the planet has been replaced by a screen shot of the classic Wizard of Wor arcade game radar screen.

Looks like a duck... (3, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320178)

It does not orbit a normal star, and it is much more massive than the largest planets in our solar system.

So, we've found an object in space that's unlike any other planet we've seen, so we assume it's a planet?

Re:Looks like a duck... (0, Offtopic)

DeathByDuke (823199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320209)

Its the third Death Star. Too Bad for them we've spotted it.

Re:Looks like a duck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320826)

Yeah, because a planet is typically defined to be any body within a certain mass range, orbiting a star.

What do you think it is, if not a planet?

Bump on planet? (2, Interesting)

geordieboy (515166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320189)

In this [space.com] image it looks like the planet has a bump on the lower left side. Could this be a mega-Olympus Mons (on a gas giant, hmm)? Yeah, yeah, I'm sure it's just noise, but it's fun to over-analyze images.

Re:Bump on planet? (0)

CaptRespect (586610) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320309)

" but it's fun to over-analyze images."

No it isn't.

Re:Bump on planet? (0, Offtopic)

groyse (839245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320476)

People say I'm overly analytical. I wonder why that is?

Re:Bump on planet? (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320564)

Here [space.com] is a link with a better caption.

Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (2, Interesting)

cronostitan (573676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320199)

they are able to find a _planet_ that is away more than 225 light years but they aren't able to point their telescopes toward the moon to find out if the vehicles from the moon landing are really there...

Can someone explain that to me?

Is it because they are only finding out by radiation instead of visual photography?? the moon has no atmosphere.. i just vant imagine tehre is no telescope orbiting our earth which isn't capable to take pictures from the moon in very high resolution?

Re:Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320259)

the moon is too close for hubble to focus on.. its made to view stuff at a distance, outside our galaxy

Focus Distance (1)

WillerZ (814133) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320282)

The 28mm lens on my camera can focus on objects as close as 0.29 metres. Long (800mm and up) lenses typically have trouble focusing on things which are closer than 1 metre.

Now look at hubble. It's essentially got a huuuuuuge telephoto lens with the focus fixed at infinity. You could point it at the moon, but the best you'd get is a blurry grey blob covering the entire imaging area.

Phil

Re:Focus Distance (1)

timster (32400) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320450)

I don't think it has anything to do with focus. Even with a huge telescope, anything more than a thousand miles away should be well within infinite focus, since it's an asymptotic sort of thing. Someone should correct me if I'm wrong though.

A sibling post has a good link which explains that Hubble simply doesn't have the resolution, and it's also inconvenient that the moon moves so quickly.

Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320289)

Maybe they don't do it because it's a bloody waste of time?

Even if the internals of the hubble could be remotely calibrated to focus on the surface of the moon, I'm sure such an endeavour would not be reasonable. You can live in your fantasy that the moon landing was fake, let us know when you want to join reality.

Re:Let's see... (1)

cronostitan (573676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320394)

I didn't say that I don't believe in the moon landing... IMHO they were walking on the moon. But I bet it would stop people bad-mouthing the moon landings.

Re:Let's see... (1)

DrinkingIllini (842502) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320696)

No it wouldn't because the data is coming out of NASA, all hubble images could easily be faked, much easier than the moon landing. Conspiracy theorists can never be proven wrong as any evidence to their contrary could be part of the conspiracy.

Re:Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320308)

The short answer is that hubbles diffaction limited resolution is to low to resolve the lunar landers by a couple of orders of magnitude.

http://www.100megsfree4.com/farshores/noluncon.htm [100megsfree4.com]

ps. Google is your friend. If you had bothered to search for 'hubble lunar' it is the third link.

Re:Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (1)

timster (32400) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320322)

I think it's sort of like how you can see a stoplight from a mile away but you can't see a bacterium on your fingernail -- the moon vehicles are really really small for astronomical objects. Also, I should point out that they found this by observing a wobble in a star. Stars are glowing, whereas the lunar vehicles are not -- they reflect about the same amount of sunlight as regular moon rocks do.

It seems like I read somewhere that the next generation of telescopes may have enough resolution to see the lunar landing sites.

Re:Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (2, Insightful)

l4m3z0r (799504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320392)

I imagine that none of our sufficiently large telescopes are built to be able to focus on something as close as the moon telescopes typically can focus properly on a range that is determined by components of the optical system, my guess is that if hubble took a look at the moon we would get a horrible grainy image, no clarity whatsoever.

For example, take a normal commercial telescope and put an object 1 inch from the lens and see if you can get it to focus properly.

Furthermore, why waste the effort doing something so trivial. We have images of the moon with that crap lying about but the nutjobs don't accept those, what makes you think telescope images from earth would change there minds? The conspiracy nuts are just going to claim the telescope photos are doctored.

Re:Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320478)

they are able to find a _planet_ that is away more than 225 light years but they aren't able to point their telescopes toward the moon to find out if the vehicles from the moon landing are really there...

Attention all Tin Foil Hat wearers! Much to the dismay of management we've now accepted that no proof given to you short of personal experience will be considered as acceptable by you. If big brother controls the best equipment on and off the Earth wouldn't it be more likely that they could just fake a photo of the Lunar craft(s)? Because we all know that photos are such acceptable proof to the skeptics, most don't bother to waste their time.

And this isn't even factoring the technical aspects of photographing procedure itself.

Re:Actually I am wondering... (use tinfoil hat!) (2, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320692)

they are able to find a _planet_ that is away more than 225 light years but they aren't able to point their telescopes toward the moon to find out if the vehicles from the moon landing are really there...

They can find the planet because its a big ball of matter glowing in the ir/light/uv spectrum against a backdrop of cold dark space.

The lander is a tiny piece of cold painted metal against a backdrop of lunar rock. That makes it a bit harder to see... next time we need to paint those suckers with radioactive glow-in-the-dark paint so that every schmuck on Earth can see it with binoculars. That'll shut the nay-sayers up.

5 times the size of Jupiter? (1)

mAineAc (580334) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320219)

At 5 times the size of jupiter and out as far as pluto around a brown giant. This sounds more like a dead star orbiting an almost dead star. Could this have once been a binary star system at one time?

at those ratios... (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320220)

a brown dwarf, versus something 5 tiems the size of jupiter? Further appart than our sun and Pluto?

Anyone know where estimates for the actual sizes of these bodies are? Almost sounds like its not entirely fair to call it a star/planet relationship, but instead a small star and tiny dead star...maybe?

Must be Planet X (1)

Emperor Shaddam IV (199709) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320234)

Hmmm... Must be Planet X. I wonder if Lord British is hanging out there? Then there was Saturn. I think thats where all the Jester's were. Anyone have any Trilithium, a Skull Key and the coordinates for Planet X? :)

I just took a photo of it with my 17" CRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320264)

Look here -> .

Estimated 7 times the size of Jupiter and 4 light years away. Burt Ruton is now selling tickets for a one way trip. :-)

to put this in scale (2, Interesting)

jbeamon (208826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320279)

This new planet is 1.5x the size of Jupiter and 5x Jupiter's mass. Its orbit is 30% farther out from its star than Pluto is from our sun. To put things in perspective, Jupiter has been described as a brown dwarf star, since it is mostly gaseous and gives off more radiation than can be accounted for by solar reflection. This new planet-star relationship is closer to a binary star system than to our 365 day whirl around the block at a balmy 65 degrees F. (I make a point about the design and structure of their system in comparison to ours, so I won't argue with astronomy buffs about the particulars.) It's still interesting, but it's not like there's much possibility of a Starbucks there yet.

not orbiting sun (1)

Keruo (771880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320290)

maybe someone decided to build dyson sphere [wikipedia.org] instead

That far way? (1, Interesting)

mshiltonj (220311) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320302)

If we can a plant 225 light years away, does that mean we have definitively ruled out the existence of planets in the solar systems close to us? If so, are planets rare? /me notes to look this stuff up later this evening.

Re:That far way? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320366)

does that mean we have definitively ruled out the existence of planets in the solar systems close to us?

Hell, we haven't even ruled out the existence of more planets in OUR solar system [bbc.co.uk] . Give it some time.

Re:That far way? (2, Informative)

ByrneArena (848313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320388)

It was easier to see BECAUSE it goes around a brown dwarf. A brown dwarf has the mass to be a sun but not enough "feul" to create the fission reaction to light up. So essentially it is easier to see because there is not as much light around it. That and the fact that it is such a large planet. While 5 time Jupiter's size seems large, there are suns that are as big as the entire ORBIT of Jupiter in diameter. So as planets go, yes its big, but not sun-like in size.

Re:That far way? (2, Informative)

StyroCupMan (815468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320867)

With our current technology, the largest extra-solar planets are the only ones we can reliably detect, let alone photograph.

It helped significantly in this case that the planet was so far away from a dim star, because most of the difficulty comes when searching for a dim speck in the glare of a bright star. The December National Geographic had a great article [nationalgeographic.com] on the search for extra-solar planets and compared it to finding a firefly in the glare of a lighthouse from several miles away.

Thus, astronomers have not ruled out the possibility of planets in nearby systems. In fact there are already a few hundred that have been found, but only by detecting the "wobble" of the sun as others here have pointed out. This is the first to be directly imaged.

As technology and methods continue to improve we will be able to detect smaller and smaller planets, closer and closer to their suns. The smallest currently detected is around 14 times the size of Earth (roughly the size of Neptune, I believe).

Once we can regularly detect Earth-sized planets in life-sustaining orbits, astronomers hope to be able to detect hints of the planets' compositions using the spectrums of light emitted (can't remember the exact terminology off-hand).

Anyway, for those of us familiar with astronomy and astrobiology, this is very exciting. And to put it into perspective, this image is of even better resolution than we had of Pluto until just a few years ago.

Yes, IAAAA (I am an amateur astronomer).

Mirror image (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11320417)

Since the server is down, here is a mirror image:

.

Best wishes,

Tels

Wait until April to get excited... (2, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320594)

...when they can confirm closer to 100%. This isn't the first time they've seen a dim point of light next to a star and hoped its a planet. Last time they waited a few months, they found out that the "planet" stayed put while the star moved on its merry way.

If the "planet" is still moving in concert with the star in a few months, then I'll believe it.

Obi Quote (1)

bluntos (549494) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320647)

That's no planet... It's a space station.

binary vision (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320802)

One interesting result of the mechanics of this exploration is the discovery of such nearly-binary star systems, described as "planetary". A huge gas giant orbiting a dark (brown), small (dwarf) star is more binary, with a common center of gravity - and orbit - somewhere between the geometric centers of both bodies. (The Earth and Moon are a binary planet, orbiting a center inside the Earth, offeset from our exact center.) All kinds of fascinating astrophysics - like perhaps a gravitational/orbital pump that pushes one, denser gas giant over the edge into fusion as a brown dwarf - might be discovered. And perhaps even harnessed by Earth physicists for more mundane tasks like lighting streets at night. Another interesting effect might be to demonstrate that the "planet"/"star" distinction is more of a continuum, which might help the public better understand the Earth's place in the menagerie. When we finally discover an Earthlike planet in another solar system, we'll need all the wisdom we can get to deal with the next "age of colonization".

Definition of a Planet (1)

ShawnCassidy (848556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11320980)

At the bottom of the article is a link to a debate over the definition of a planet.

My thought is that they should restrict the term Planet to just our original nine planets (Mercury through Pluto).

My argument is that people are afraid of change or having to forget what they have learned and relearn it. So if you accept that statement, then you should hopefully agree that any definition of planet should include the nine planets of our solar system so people don't have to forget about any one of them being a planet. In addition, it would be a shock for people to suddenly go from 9 to 12 to over two dozen planets in our solar system, so it would probably be a good idea to restrict it to include only a couple more planets being added to our solar system (maybe 12 at most). This obviously makes the definition difficult.

My proposal [experiment11.com] is to keep the term 'Planet' restricted to just our 9 original planets as I stated before. Just Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, no others. Then just continue to define spacial objects as they already are, according to their physical properties, (weight, size, composition, movement, what they move about, etc). If the nine planets are given another term in addition to Planet, oh well. I think people would accept that more than any other definition of planet. Also, since the IAU has no formal definition of planet, the scientific community would hopefully not be rocked by this.
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