“What Worlds There May Be”
Imaging Extrasolar Planets
Cover and 2-Page Spread for Sky & Telescope
Copyright © 2004 B.E.Johnson, All Rights Reserved
An Element of
Imaging Exoplanets by David Shiga
They said it couldn't be done.But technology has changed the rules of the game, and astronomers are now racing for the coveted first image of an extrasolar planet.
In the 16th century and Italian monk named Giordano Bruno claimed that an infinity of worlds circled other stars, each inhabited with intelligent beings, In 1698 Christian Huygens pointed his telescope at various stars in the hope of finding extrasolar planets, but soon realized his telescope wasn't up to the task.
Fast-forward three centuries. In the past eight years, astronomers have discovered more than 100 extrasolar planets by detecting the "wobbles" of their parent stars. Still, no one has seen an exoplanet directly—no one has taken a picture of one. But thanks to new technology, astronomers are on the verge of doing just that.
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