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Lowest Mass Exoplanet Ever Directly Imaged. Probably. 43

The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers announced today that they have taken a direct image of the lowest mass exoplanet ever seen. HD 95086 b has a mass about 4 to 5 times that of Jupiter, and orbits a star 300 light years away that is slightly more massive and hotter than the Sun. The planet is not 100% confirmed, but it appears very likely to be real. If so, it's a hot gas giant, still cooling from its formation less than 20 million years ago. The picture, taken in the infrared, clearly shows the planet, making it one of fewer than a dozen such planets seen in actual telescopic images."
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Lowest Mass Exoplanet Ever Directly Imaged. Probably.

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  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @06:04AM (#43903063) Journal

    To me the sad part is unless we can find some way around that pesky relativity thing this is probably as close as we are ever gonna get to it. If you look at a pic showing our position in the milky way we really are in the ass end of town with all the really cool stuff so far away from us it would take a trip longer than humans have existed just to go to the center.

    maybe its just me but as someone who grew up watching Star Trek and Lost In Space every time they find a new planet i remember that we'll never ever get to see it in person and it just bums me out.

  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @07:46AM (#43903289)

    Twenty years ago, I though that there were relatively few exoplanets - only perhaps one in every few hundred systems having them - and even if there were one nearby, the chances of detecting it, ever, were small. Now we are knee deep in exoplanets, we know that large numbers of stars can have them, and we can even see them (probably). What I thought would never happen is fast transitioning from surprising to mundane.

    Which just goes to prove the to Clarke's law, that almost nothing is impossible, in due course. Once we couldn't see them. Now we can see them, but fear we will never visit them. But history shows that visiting will come, in time - provided we have enough time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 04, 2013 @07:56AM (#43903315)

    Being stuck in the outskirts of the unfashionable arm of the milky way does reduce our chances of being wiped out by gamma ray bursts, black holes etc though. You wouldn't want to live near most of the "interesting" parts of the galaxy.

    Sublight self-replicating probes could explore the galaxy for us (eventually), although without FTL comms it would largely be a one-way message to any other intelligent races out there.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.