Thursday, November 13, 2008

A picture worth a hundred light years (give or take)

1st optical image of an Extra- Solar Planet.

This is absolutely amazing. The Hubble Space Telescope has, once again, made history. This is an image of the star Fomalhaut and it's only about 25 light years away from us. 25 light years is just next door when your taking about galactic and intergalactic distances. Phil Plait over at the Bad Astronomy site has much more information about this as well as another photo showing not one, not two but three planets in orbit around another star! Think of that for a moment, three planets....a whole star system! Granted, these are all huge gas giants (think Jupiter sized) but when you think of how small they are when compared to their parent star....WOW!

Here's a cool movie that the Hubble folks have put together Movie

A couple of things about the photo.

That ring that you see is the remnants of the planetary systems creation. It's being shepherded, for lack of a better word, by the planet. This ring means that there may (and probably are) more planets orbiting Fomalhaut.

WTG Hubble!