Monday, November 17, 2008
An observatory in Hawaii has harnessed adaptive optics to produce visible light photographs of the first three-planet solar system. The three gas giants, larger than Saturn and Jupiter, are orbiting the star HR8799, 130 lights years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus. Last week, NASA released photographs of a single planet 25 light-years away in the the Southern Fish constellation. The photos were taken by the 2.4-meter Hubble Space Telescope. The much larger telescopes at the Keck Observatory on Maui used adaptive optics techniques to render photographs rivaling those made by Hubble. The technique canceled out the distorting effects of the atmosphere. The resulting photographs of the three gas giant exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) were made by a team of Canadian, U.S. and British astronomers.
Posted by R. Colin Johnson at 10:19 AM