Directly Observing Exoplanets Just Got Easier

Illustration for article titled Directly Observing Exoplanets Just Got Easier

So that Gliese Goldilocks Zone planet may not exist. Sad. Cheer up though, because Arizona University astronomers have discovered a new technique that could make spotting exoplanets a bit easier. Which is great, because right now it's really frickin' hard.

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The biggest hurdle is light. When we look at distant stars and try to see their planetary systems, the glare from the star can be millions of times brighter than the rocky planets that could inhabit the warm Goldilocks Zone. This is the case with our solar system, whose dusty space and glaring Sun potentially obscure all but Neptune from hypothetical alien observers.

What this amazing new research out of Arizona University does is reduce the glare by stealing some of the star's own light.

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Using these "ripples" of light the researchers are able to cancel out some of the star's glare (only on one side, as seen in the picture). But, what a picture the left side is! That white spot's a planet, directly observed, orbiting the well-documented Beta Pictoris, visible and glorious thanks to this new technique.

Astronomers expect to use this technique to confirm the 500 exoplanets discovered so far are the real deal (sometimes they're false positives), and then they'll use it to find even more. [Eurekalert via Discover]

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DISCUSSION

who else here thinks all this super outer space stuff is useless. its good to have general and good knowledge but when u need to see every nook and cranny and super outer space...its getting ridiculous. lets put 1 yr of outer spaces grant into our oceans...and see how much and how easy it is to learn. we are already at a big wall in terms of outer space exploration,knowledge and wahtever.