One of the central themes both to science fiction and to real-life space progress was the drive to find and eventually travel to extrasolar plants. In recent years, constantly improving computer processing and better imaging technology have allowed scientists to at last confirm what many have long fantasized -- there's a wealth of planets outside our solar system.
From water bearing planets to ultra-hot ones, and even with a few that resembled larger versions of Earth, extrasolar planets thus far have shown great variety. Most of these planets were detected using Doppler, or "wobble," technique to locate stars which were tugged at by the gravity of orbiting planets, leading to a wobble. Thus far, infrared images from the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope and spectral analysis of composition had provided us of our clearest picture of these worlds. However, the public has never seen a picture of an extrasolar planet -- until now.
The new images, developed by NASA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are the first-ever pictures taken from the visible spectrum, glimpsed by the Gemini North and Keck telescopes on the Mauna Kea mountaintop in Hawaii. British and American researchers snapped the first ever visible-light pictures of three extrasolar planets orbiting the star HR8799. HR8799 is about 1.5 times the size of the sun, located 130 light-years away in the Pegasus constellation. Observers can probably see this star through binoculars, scientists said.
To identify the planets, researchers compared images of the system, known to contain planets HF8799b, HF8799c, and HF8799d. In each image faint objects were detected, and by comparing images from over the years, it was confirmed that these were the planets in their expected positions and that they orbit their star in a counterclockwise direction.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope at about the same time picked up images of a fourth planet, somewhat unexpectedly. The new planet, Fomalhaut b orbits the bright southern star Fomalhaut, part of the constellation Piscis Australis (Southern Fish) and is relatively massive -- about three times the size of Jupiter. The planet orbits 10.7 billion miles from its home star and is approximately 25 light-years from Earth.
Hubble astronomer Paul Kalas describes the challenge of obtaining the images, stating, "Our Hubble observations were incredibly demanding. Fomalhaut b is 1 billion times fainter than the star. We began this program in 2001, and our persistence finally paid off."
NASA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s use of direct-imaging to "see" planets marks a new era in astronomy. Says Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, "After all these years, it's amazing to have a picture showing not one but three planets. The discovery of the HR 8799 system is a crucial step on the road to the ultimate detection of another Earth."
While none of the planets were even remotely habitable, they are an important step towards imaging habitable worlds. Their discovery brings the total of known extrasolar planets to 326.
The photographs were published in two research studies in the American Association for the Advancement of Science's journal Science Express. They can be viewed here  .
quote: "It is compounded by the fact that the Shuttles would not be able to hold enought supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to fuel the journey, with the proper amount of fuel it may travel the speed of Lance Armstrong riding a bike..."
quote: sending a human being on a 25-year one-way mission is highly unlikely, especially with the weak amount of available light for growing food, producing heat and generating electricity once they exit our solar system making the trip uninhabitable :(
quote: A lightsail is, at present, the only feasible method we have of reaching an appreciable percentage of the speed of light
quote: The space shuttle could in theory make such a trip, as long as it has enough fuel to exceed Earth's escape velocity, it can in theory reach any point in the Universe -- after enough millions of years.
quote: because in the time of wright brothers when they invented the airplane everyone thought it wasn't real
quote: if God wishes to create life on other planets
quote: The iron article you linked said that the hyperthermophiles ingested iron oxide and excreted magnetite. According to Wikipedia, magnetite is Fe3O4, another form of iron oxide. The organisms do not feed on iron metal. If you notice, these organisms are anaerobic, so making magnetite (Fe3O4) out of iron metal is out of the question.
quote: But isn't it equally improbable that our own earth is here?
quote: On the flipside, if you're religious then why join a science argument if you are just gonna pull the ripcord at the end.
quote: According to the most recent research in astrophysics, the probability of one earth-like planet in the entire universe happening by random chance is 1 out of 10 with 400 zeroes after it!! There are only about 1 out of 10 with 79 zeroes after it protons and neutrons in the entire universe
quote: Where do I get these figures?
quote: There are about 300 finely tuned parameters needed to get one earth-like planet capable of supporting life (not to get life, just a planet capable of supporting it). For example, the dark energy space ratio is fine tuned to an accuracy of 1 out of 10 with 120 zeroes after it...this is like saying: multiply our own universe by one trillion by one trillion by one trillion by one trillion by one trillion...take all of that and if you remove one electron or proton from it during the time just after the singularity of the Big Bang, you would have no possibility of getting even one earth-like planet.
quote: But, since that phenomenon also occurs on geostationary satellites, which don't move at all relative to the earth, it pretty much invalidates that as evidence and conjures the question what is exactly happening to those clocks.
quote: How would a black hole, such as we have at the center of the galaxy, be able to move at all if time was frozen, let alone set the pace of the Milky Way through the universe?
quote: The fact is that light does distort time, just as sound does, when relative movement is at play.
quote: quantum particles have shown that they can move at instantaneous speeds as far as we can measure
quote: But geostationary satellites are moving faster than the point on earth over which they're stationary.
quote: Because time is not frozen for us, and we are the ones watching it move
quote: Sound doesn't distort time (I except country music).
quote: No. Two entangled quantum particles can communicate with eachother instantaneously, regardless of how far they are separated. The particles themselves don't go anyway. Yes, it's a new and interesting mystery.
quote: That's not true at all. How are they faster? They don't move relative to each other. That's how relativity works. Since they don't move, then the clocks on each point should remain the same, but they don't.
quote: The satellite has the same angular speed as the point below it on the earth's surface, but because the satellite is also far above the earth's surface (larger radius of motion), the linear speed has to be faster. That's just basic mechanics.
quote: All the scientific advances you mention, all have to do with machines created by humans, because these were within our capability to invent and construct. That doesn't mean the rest are equally realistic or can ever be realistic.
quote: the drive to find and eventually travel to extrasolar plants .
quote: In order to find other intelligent life forms, we'll have to communicate by radio waves. The thing is, we've been sending signals for a century from antenae, and for half a century using satellites.
quote: Either way, my faith in His Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Omniscience is not diluted in any way.
quote: ...the planets orbit their star in a counterclockwise direction