Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Real Pictures of Alien Worlds

Imaging exoplanets (the term for planets outside our solar system) have come a long way since I brought an article discussing the first evidence of their existence into my "Current Problems in Astronomy" course in 1997. Phil Plait's, Bad Astronomy blog updates our ability to capture these elusive giants in his "Gallery of Exoplanets: Real Pictures of Alien Worlds." Don't expect details of planet surfaces and orbiting moons, for now we'll leave that to the matte painters of Star Trek, but do be prepared for spectacular spectrometry, Hubble images of multiple exoplanet solar systems and evidence of cold, cold worlds, some over 50 billion kilometers from their stars.

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