For the first time ever, we have detected the glow of extrasolar planets using infrared. The planets were first detected in space with the
gravitational wobbles of their suns. The two Jupiter sized planets are gas giants and each orbit different suns. Also, for the first time we will be
able to learn much about other planets, ranging from temperatures to winds. In coming years more planets are likely to be found for Spitzer to
The two planets were detected in infrared light, an emission of heat that is not visible to the human eye. There are no conventional photographs, but
astronomers are ecstatic nonetheless.
The gas giant worlds, each around a different star, were discovered previously by noting the gravitational wobbles they induce in their host stars --
an indirect method. Both are roughly Jupiter-sized and hot, orbiting very close to their stars. Each completes a "year" in less than four days.
The new technique, using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, allows astronomers to probe the temperatures, atmospheres and emissions of planets,
Charbonneau told SPACE.com. It might even let them measure wind for the first time on a planet around another star.
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I think this is an amazing discovery. While over the years we have discovered upwards of 140 other planets this is the first time that we actually
have gotten a "picture" of what other extra solar planets are like. Sadly we will not be able to get any true pictures of these planets until NASA
launches a new telescope up which is dedicated to the task, but until then I think there will be plenty to look at with the equipment we have now.
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