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Alien Planet Discovery Generates Confidence

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A recent visual discovery of 2 planets located outside our solar system by NASA’s Spitzer telescope is generating excitement concerning the future planet searches.

According to The New York Times,

Using the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope and careful timing, teams studying two planets were able to distinguish the glow of the planets’ infrared radiation from the overwhelming glare of their parent stars. Both planets are so-called hot Jupiters, massive bodies circling their stars in tight, blowtorching orbits and probably unfit for the kind of life found on Earth.

Until now, astronomers could infer the existence and some properties of these and other so-called exoplanets only by indirect means. They said directly measuring light from the planets was a major step in the quest to understand what alien planets are made of, because different molecules in the atmosphere absorb infrared light in characteristic ways and allow scientists to compare these alien planets to those in the solar system. Ultimately, astronomers would like to know if Earth, with its ability to evolve and support life, is unique or common in the universe.

This new method of locating and visualizing planets outside of our domain is increasing confidence levels for future planet discovery “expeditions”. Dr. Alan P. Boss, a planetary theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said in an email message to the Times:

“Just think of the results we will have from NASA’s future telescopes that will be specifically designed to detect and study extrasolar planets.”

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Alien Planet Discovery Generates Confidence
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