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NASA Space Science

Astronomers Find Three Exoplanets In Old Hubble Images 48

Posted by timothy
from the ok-where-did-you-see-them-last dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "Using new software techniques on Hubble data from 1998, astronomers have teased out direct images of three planets orbiting the Sun-like star HR 8799, 130 light years away. These planets were discovered in 2008 using a different telescope, but had been sitting in the Hubble pictures this whole time, invisible due to their proximity to the bright star. Many other images of other stars are available, so it's entirely possible more planets will be found in this way."
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Astronomers Find Three Exoplanets In Old Hubble Images

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @03:43PM (#37630766)

    It's a way to verify that your method of finding them works. This of course also implies trying the method on stars you believe not to have planets. Next, they can run their algorithm on imagery of other stars to see if they can find planets there. Re-read the last sentence of TFSummary for that:

    Many other images of other stars are available, so it's entirely possible more planets will be found in this way.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @04:32PM (#37631610) Homepage

    What I don't get is why every time somebody finds a planet, it makes the front page. We know there are many stars. We know that many stars have orbiting planets.

    About 23 years ago - 19 since we didn't really believe the 1988 discovery at first - we didn't know a single damn one. Not how many, not what sizes, not what orbits, nothing. Granted there's 688 of them by now and we don't need every single one hitting the front page, but this is groundbreaking science in progress. We've discovered more in the last 20 years than in the 60 years before that since we found Pluto. We're now looking for Earth-like planets in Earth-like solar systems, IMO that's probably the most interesting thing in astronomy since... well, ever. Stars? Great, but nothing lives on stars. But we do know at least one form of carbon-based life that lives on planets. Or well, one planet. But if you don't like it I'm sure there's sites with more celebrity gossip and less science reporting. As far as I'm concerned this is good old fashioned news for nerds. There's plenty covering the mainstream stuff.

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