Friday, November 14, 2008

Keck & Exo

Keck on Hawaii

Credit: Rick Peterson
W.M. Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii

It is all over the news now that Hubble took a snapshot of an extrasolar planet. It is the first time an optical snapshot is taken of a planet outside our own solar system. As usual when we discuss space activities there are ground segments supporting spacecrafts and satellites. Adding to the wonderful images taken by Hubble, ground based telescopes fill in with more information from their observations. Like the gorgeous Keck observatory on Hawaii seen on the image above.

Credit: Christian Marois and Bruce Macintosh
Three exoplanets orbiting a young star 140 light years away are captured using Keck Observatory near-infrared adaptive optics. The planets are labeled and the two outer ones have arrows showing the size of their motion over a 4 year period.

As shown on the image above there appear to be three planets orbiting around the young Fomalhaut star. I guess NASA operate with only one due to the size of the planets. The others are too small to be called a planet in our solar system. Remember Pluto loosing its status as a planet? Well!

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