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First Reflected Light From an Exoplanet Seen

Zonk posted more than 5 years ago | from the someone-has-a-really-big-mirror dept.

Space 72

Roland Piquepaille writes "European astronomers have for the first time ever been able to detect and monitor the visible light that is scattered in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. Designated HD 189733b, also known as a 'hot Jupiter,' orbits a star slightly cooler and less massive than the Sun about 60 light-years from Earth. According to a Zurich news release, 'Polarization technique focuses limelight,' the researchers used 'techniques similar to how Polaroid sunglasses filter away reflected sunlight to reduce glare. They also directly traced the orbit of the planet, a feat of visualization not possible using indirect methods.' The team thinks that their findings are opening new opportunities for exploring physical conditions on exoplanets."

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you dont want to know. (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 5 years ago | (#21834892)

Designated HD 189733b, also known as a 'hot Jupiter,'

I've given my girlfriend a "hot Jupiter" before, but I didn't know it had an official scientific serial number.

Re:you dont want to know. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21834934)

I think you missed by two planets

Re:you dont want to know. (1)

Lerc (71477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835162)

Thank you for a subtle version of the inevitable joke.

Re:you dont want to know. (1, Redundant)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835364)

About overshooting and getting Plutoed?

Re:you dont want to know. (0, Offtopic)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21837014)

Please, leave the animals out of this, ok? Just for good taste's sake.

the true inevitable joke... (0)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835822)

"That's no planet."

Re:you dont want to know. (0, Offtopic)

cytg.net (912690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836406)

Designated HD 189733b, also known as a 'hot Jupiter,'

I've given my girlfriend a "hot Jupiter" before, but I didn't know it had an official scientific serial number.

you hear of many strange things, but the fetish of farting in your girlfriends general direction must be a new one .. wait.. oh crap..err bugger

Re:you dont want to know. (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21837952)

I've given my girlfriend a "hot Jupiter" before, but I didn't know it had an official scientific serial number.

If that involves a large red spot in her lower hemisphere, you may want to think about going to a clinic...

hidef images available on faster link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21834906)

OC-48 host [www.exet.nu]

Re:hidef images available on faster link (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21834968)

Goatse never gets old apparently.

The mods sure are stupid today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21836978)

It's just like I said in my reply to the goatse troll: people don't read what they mod. Some idiot didn't take the time to read this post, and modded it down, despite the fact that it was warning someone of a link to goatse that doesn't say goaste in the visable url. Good job, moron.

Attention whomever did the modding I speak of: You are stupid.

goatse (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838432)

As horrifying as it is, it doesn't piss me off like that fohootville crap.

Re:goatse (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838540)

Fohootville, Patootville - they're all the same to me.

Re:hidef images available on faster link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21834996)

Frak, you'd think I'd have learned to read links by now..

*smacks forehead*

Re:hidef images available on faster link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21836314)

I can't believe someone modded this as informative. Further proof that the mods don't read the comments.

Moderation is a lot like democracy: it only works the way it's supposed to if people pay attention. Obviously, someone was asleep at the wheel, here.

If only... (3, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#21834930)

If only there were some sort of multi-media-enabled information sharing platform available so that everyone could see the visualizations for themselves. Oh well.

Re:If only... (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#21834944)

Mirror of image here: o.

Re:If only... (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#21834964)

Mirror of image here: o.

Alright, you owe me a new keyboard.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835240)

Mirror of image here: o

Wow. They're really getting the best imaging out of the telescopes these days. Last time I checked, the image they had to work with was: .

Re:If only... (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835348)

That would require an array of telescopes roughly a mile in diameter. Certainly very possible, though as the square kilometer array has demonstrated, very hard to organize and fund.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835382)

-------joke
O
|
\ /
|
/ \

Re:If only... (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835438)

No, the joke didn't fly over my head. It was obviously meant in jest. However, my reply is correct - to get an accurate 1 pixel image, you need a square kilometer array. To get something 2x2 pixels in size (about the size of a small o), you'd need an array a mile across. And for all of that, all you'd see is an image that looked almost exactly like an o - fairly uniform in the middle with a well-defined boundary. Thus, the true joke is that the joke is also true.

Re:If only... (2, Funny)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21837928)

Hmmm....if you can make a legible o out of 4 pixels (a 2x2 square), then contact me over email, and I'll give you $500.

Re:If only... (1)

robbiedo (553308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836012)

I wonder what the James Webb Telescope will do for exo-planet research?

Re:If only... (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836100)

For planetary research, you want radio telescopes specifically tuned to frequencies of larger molecules (water, sulpher dioxide, something like that). This should be where the planets are brightest and where all other objects are dimmest. My understanding of the Webber telescope is that it won't be looking in that sort of range. It's also very small for what you really want.

Re:If only... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836358)

It'll resign[1] once they decomission the Hubble.



[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Webb [wikipedia.org] "In 1987, he served as Secretary of the Navy...Webb resigned in 1988 after refusing to agree to reduce the size of the Navy."
Requiring a footnote for a joke is a clear indicator that it's not funny, but, then again, neither was the 2006 Senate campaign in Virginia.

Re:If only... (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838318)

Or a solar focus telescope [utexas.edu] , then you can use the sun as your lens [blogspot.com] . There's just that little detail about getting out to 550 AU!

Re:If only... (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 6 years ago | (#21837574)

Mirror of image here: .o

There, fixed it for you...

Re:If only... (1)

aviators99 (895782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838364)

>Mirror of image here: o.

Is this a mirror of the planet, or another mirror of the goatse? I want to know whether I should be disgusted or not.

Mirror (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838470)

I larfed twice, first I thought goatse, almost fell out of my chair. Then when I saw the imaging comment from AC, (good one, eh?) and LOL all over again. Now the ol' lady is yelling I woke her up.

Polaroid Sunglasses? (5, Insightful)

parcanman (933838) | more than 5 years ago | (#21834986)

"...the researchers used 'techniques similar to how Polaroid sunglasses filter away reflected sunlight to reduce glare..." Funny, I didn't even know Polaroid made sunglasses, here I thought they only made photography stuff. I assume the writer meant Polarized sunglasses?

Re:Polaroid Sunglasses? (5, Informative)

jcaldwel (935913) | more than 5 years ago | (#21835056)

You are right, Polaroid is a name brand, but they do make sunglasses [polaroideyewear.com] .

One definition from Dictionary.com [reference.com] : a brand of material for producing polarized light from unpolarized light by dichroism, consisting typically of a stretched sheet of colorless plastic treated with an iodine solution so as to have long, thin, parallel chains of polymeric molecules containing conductive iodine atoms. It is used widely in optical and lighting devices to reduce glare.

... it doesn't just refer to the cameras.

Mod Up (1)

alfrin (858861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835296)

Fresh out of Mod points, mod up someone The naming is awkward, I believe the term "polarized" is more correct when refering to these kind of glasses, Polaroid leads to confusion.

Re:Mod Up: Mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835376)

I believe the term "polarized" is more correct when refering to these kind of glasses, Polaroid leads to confusion

The glasses aren‘t polarized, they are polarizing. AFAIK, the only thing one can polarize are waves

Re:Mod Up: Mod down (2, Funny)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836370)

And political news coverage.

Re:Mod Up: Mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21841448)

Um...so you've never made a magnet in chemistry class? You can even polarize water... [lsbu.ac.uk] (or at least polarize the ions within water...)

Re:Polaroid Sunglasses? (4, Informative)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835172)

A million years ago when I was a young one, calling them "Polaroid sunglasses" was actually pretty standard. The text probably reflects the age of the person who put the release together.

Re:Polaroid Sunglasses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835338)

Are you sure that they were capitalizing "Polaroid" when they said it? "polaroid sunglasses" would seem to be semantically correct, and brand-free.

Re:Polaroid Sunglasses? (2, Informative)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835470)

I believe it became generic eventually (as in "I can't find my polaroids!") but started out as brand specific, as the original Polaroid Lenses (http://www.visionsunglasses.com/polaroid/ [visionsunglasses.com] ) specifically filtered out (I think) horizontally polarized light to improve visibility while driving. I haven't heard it in general conversation for probably 25 years however.

Re:Polaroid Sunglasses? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835304)

It's no coincidence that polarized sunglasses have a name similar to Polaroid. Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid camera, also invented the polarized film used in sunglasses. And the Polaroid company had the patent for that (then) new kind of polarizing film made by laying crystals down on plastic.

Re:Polaroid Sunglasses? (0, Offtopic)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835734)

I'm still crying for my Polaroid sunglasses left at the airport counter in Honolulu. They were my all time favorites/

Shame on the mods (1)

Moderatbastard (808662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838586)

Funny, I didn't even know Polaroid made sunglasses
Slashdot's version of Newspeak:

Ignorant is insightful, wrong is informative. Google is not your friend. Google has never been your friend. [google.be] .

In other news... (2, Funny)

peektwice (726616) | more than 5 years ago | (#21834992)

Steve Jobs sued the exoplanet for patent infringement, citing its ability to focus the limelight on anything other than him.

A more interesting perspective (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21835018)

I saw this article [snipurl.com] the other day, it provides relevant information.

So... (2, Interesting)

oblonski (1077335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835124)

...we are not alone then, after all?

in other news (1)

chrisb.au (1209032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835166)

next release of oakley sunglasses will have built in planet spotting capabilities.. wheee

Well (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835446)

I'm not, but you probably are.

Exoplanet (4, Funny)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835200)

Dear scientists, thank you for finding me.

XO -planet

Re:Exoplanet (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835984)

LOL I laughed really hard at this one :)

Re:Exoplanet (1)

bondjamesbond (99019) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838434)

P.S.: Please don't name me "Your Anus".

Where is the picture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835256)

I just RTFA and all that's there is an "artist's rendition".
Where the hell is the real picture?

I call BS.

Re:Where is the picture? (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835340)

The picture would show nothing more than a blurry spot, with one pixel slightly different from the others.


Or did you really expect the very first reflected light ever seen from an exoplanet to be anything remarkable to a layperson?

Re:Where is the picture? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835412)


The picture would show nothing more than a blurry spot, with one pixel slightly different from the others.

Or did you really expect the very first reflected light ever seen from an exoplanet to be anything remarkable to a layperson?



I was hoping for nothing short of a photo of Elvis waving back to the graceland faithful.

Re:Where is the picture? (3, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835598)

The picture would show nothing more than a blurry spot, with one pixel slightly different from the others.

Yeah, but now, that pixel's spectrum would be quite interesting.

Re:Where is the picture? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838340)

Indeed. Hot Jupiters aren't that interesting in this department as they aren't likely to be habitable though - so I will be more impressed if they can do the same with a presumed terrestrial planet like Gliese 581c

more info (4, Interesting)

jack455 (748443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835738)

It's got a wiki page [wikipedia.org] as well. It's listed as only 15% more Massive than Jupiter.

"Hot Jupiters [wikipedia.org] (also called roasters, epistellar jovians, pegasids or pegasean planets) are a class of extrasolar planets whose mass is close to or exceeds that of Jupiter"

I figured Hot Jubiter implied "hotter than" but I guess that's not the case.

Re:more info (3, Informative)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835840)

It does imply "hotter than", if you quote the full definition from the article you cite:

... but unlike in the Solar System, where Jupiter orbits at 5 AU, the planets referred to as hot Jupiters orbit within approximately 0.05 AU of their parent stars, about one eighth the distance that Mercury orbits the Sun.
Being only 1% as far away from their parent star does imply they would be significantly hotter than Jupiter (I say imply because I can't be bothered to work out the exact numbers on whether it would be feasible for such a planet orbiting a very cold star to be colder than Jupiter. I doubt it, but don't want to go around throwing out absolutes without basis).

Re:more info (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836128)

This is Slashdot. No one would bat an eye...

Re:more info (1)

jack455 (748443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836240)

I'm not sure quoting it would make it more obvious than reading it, although it would've been more informative for others. I'd read it but missed the obvious.

Re:more info (3, Informative)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21837026)

It depends on whether such a planet could survive the blow offs that occur as the parent star enters a white dwarf stage. Low mass helium core white dwarfs as small as 0.11 solar masses do exist, probably as the remnants of what were originally already very small stars, but there's some question how such a small star ages fast enough that any have already blown off surface layers and collapsed. For example a star of only 0.7 standard solar masses is expected to end up as a white dwarf of about 0.4 solar masses, but stars starting even that small should have a lifetime of close to 14 billion years, so white dwarfs that proportionately small or even smaller shouldn't have had time to form by conventional means yet. There is a phenominon called Roche lobe mass transfer that could give rise to very low mass dwarfs, which would now be in binary systems, chiefly with pulsars as companion stars, but the process of forming the pulsar itself would be the sort of thing that would definitely blow a lot of a gas giant's atmosphere away into interstellar space even if the conventional small sister star's collapse was energetically light enough not to.
      Could some planet start as a 10 Jupiter mass close in giant, and end up with 1 or 2 Jupiter masses left after a big star just a million miles or so away went through at least one actual Nova and subsequent collapse to pulsar, and then a smaller, equally near star went through a small red giant phases and collapse to a white dwarf? It sounds a bit improbable, but what if the small mass star is exactly between the gas giant and the large mass star when the big one Novas?

Note: For anyone who knows a little astrophysics, yes a typical white dwarf star is very hot, i.e. the surface temperature may be 23,000 K as opposed to our sun's modest 5,700 K, but the actual amount of heat emitted is very much smaller due to the small surface area. It takes a high mass (0.91 solar masses plus) white dwarf to have a zone around it hot enough for a planet to have liquid water at all. (So yes, they could have very close in but still cold Jovians).

Re:more info (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21836852)

Hot Jupiters are Jupiter (or larger) sized planets that are significantly closer to their sun than our Jupiter is.

Re:epistellar jovians (1)

Joseph Hayes (982018) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838830)

I had a box of epistellar jovians in my stocking this year.

Polaroid. n. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21835824)

The primary definition of the noun polaroid from the OED. The term polaroid has fallen into disfavour to polarized since the 80s, but it's still a correct term for the effect.

1. a. A synthetic material which in the form of thin sheets produces a high degree of plane polarization in light passing through it.

  • 1936 Lancaster (Ohio) Gaz. 31 Jan. 1 The inventor, Edwin H. Land, 27, spent 10 years in perfecting the glass which he calls 'polaroid', because it polarizes light.
  • 1946 F. SCHNEIDER Qualitative Org. Microanal. iv. 119 The sections of Polaroid are cut so that their planes of polarization include an angle of approximately 5 when the segments are mounted.
b. A piece of this material, esp. one used as a polarizer or analyser.
  • 1937 Hammond (Indiana) Times 2 July 21/6 When this light is forced to pass through a second polaroid..the light is broken up into beautiful colors.
  • 1967 H. VON KLÜBER in J. N. Xanthakis Solar Physics ix. 261 For nearly all analysers used in the detection of such inverse Zeeman effects{em}such as polaroids, double-splitting crystals, quarter- or half-wave plates, etc.{em}the result..is just the same.
  • 1976 Nature 11 Mar. 155/1 The relative intensities of the red and green components could then be varied by rotating a Polaroid interposed in the common beam.
2. In pl. Sunglasses with Polaroid lenses. [...]

3. a. A photograph taken with a Polaroid camera. [...]
b. A camera of this kind. [...]

Oh, Come On!! (2, Funny)

psydad (12743) | more than 6 years ago | (#21835930)

I can't believe no one has done the Svetlana and Hot Jupiter angle...
This is /. is it not??

Future possibilities (3, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21838348)

If an exoplanet can be directly imaged in this manner, does that mean some of the techniques used on stars for inferring the existence of exoplanets (wobbling, dimming etc) can be used to detect exomoons?

This would be a great breakthrough if it were possible, seeing as most of the exoplanets we know about are gas giants and if they host life it is likely to be on their moons.

Re:Future possibilities (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21839264)

Thats true, but I'm not sure if exomoons are that interesting in that sense.

Since moons tend to have no or very thin atmospheres, finding oxygen on them would be hard, and free oxygen would probably be the best proof of life that we can find on exoplanets with current technology. So even though moons probably are likely places for life, it will be very hard to prove its there.

Re:Future possibilities (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21841332)

Titan has an atmosphere, and from what I understand it is very similar to that of a primodial Earth. Had Saturn been located within the Sun's habitable zone, I don't see any reason why complex life could've evolved there. Its not out of the question therefore for an exomoon to have an oxygen atmosphere.

Another possible location for life is on icy moons of a further away gas giant. In our solar system such moons emit water vapour from their surfaces. This may be an avenue for detection.

Master of Orion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21838942)

*sigh* pang of nostalgia, reminds me of MOO, now we can send colony ships instead of scout ships.

Polaroid? Polarized? (0, Redundant)

bastardblaster (1035388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846450)

If the author of this article doesn't know the difference between polarized lenses and Polaroid brand film, then what does that say about the trustworthyness of the article?
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