Thursday, July 1, 2010

Picture Of The Day

How cool is this?

This isn't our Sun. This other sun is 470 light-years away from our home. Its name is 1RXS J160929.1-210524, and the orange sphere near it has been confirmed today as an orbiting planet. The first photo of an extra-solar planet.

The photo was originally taken in 2008 by David Lafreniere and collaborators working at the Gemini Observatory. Scientists weren't sure about it being an orbiting planet until now, however. New observations have shown that the planet follows an orbit around the star 300 times larger than Earth's orbit.

The planet has eight times the mass of Jupiter, and has a much higher temperature: 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to the minus 166 degrees of the biggest planet in our solar system. Scientists believe this temperature is a product of the age of this star system, much younger than ours.

Far from throwing any light in planetary theories, this discovery challenges the current model. Lafreniere and his colleagues think the orbit is too large for the planet to form by core accretion. If that was the case, then the star system could be much older than is actual age.

The only thing that worries me about this: what if the inhabitants of that planet saw the flash from our camera? Now I'm not saying that we're due for an alien invasion or anything like that but we do have a black president: isn't that always when shit goes down?



magpie said...

I'm... surprised... that any planet, even one eight times the mass of Jupiter, can be imaged-captured at 470 light-years away.
I'm thrilled if it is what it's purported to be - because that is indeed a first but.... 470 frickin light years away, mate, it should just be too damned small to be visible.
Gemini Observatory is a twin sited terrestrial observatory, one of the most powerful in the world, but even so...

I followed the link where, they say it challenges the model for planetary development, and dangle the notion "what if it is something else?", and my nerdmind starts ticking.

( ...and so what you got a black president...?
We've got an atheist female prime minister with no kids who is living in a de facto relationship.
Who do you reckon the aliens will really want to talk to, huh? ET to land on Uluru! )

Beekeepers Apprentice said...

magpie said what if it is something else

Oh, my nerdmind just started going into full riot gear, too!

JBW said...

"ET to land on Uluru!"

Wasn't she the comm-officer on Star Trek, magpie?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Great photo. It is fun to think about extra-terrestial life. But I do hope if it exists, it's nothing like us. I could take it.

magpie said...

No that's Uhura.
Zoe Saldana in the most recent film.
And if anyone is going to land on her, it will be me.

JBW said...

Yeah, that was kind of a joke, magpie (I'm disappointed that you give me so little geek cred, bud). And how hot was she in the reboot?! Spock's the man, man.

magpie said...

I knew it was a joke JBW. Your geek cred rating is still triple A.

Spock loses his home planet, but gets the girl... classic.