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Direct view of exoplanets is possible and the search has begun!

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posted on Jul, 7 2012 @ 07:09 AM
A new telescope equiped with a set of high-tech instrumentation and softwares is now able to directly image exoplanets.

After six years of development at the Palomar Observatory in California, "Project 1640" started last month to collect data for a three-year survey, during which they plan to image hundreds of young stars.

Although hundreds of planets are known from indirect detection methods to orbit other stars, it's extremely difficult to see them directly in an image. This is largely because the light that stars emit is tens of millions to billions of times brighter than the light given off by planets.

"We are blinded by this starlight," Oppenheimer said. "Once we can actually see these exoplanets, we can determine the colors they emit, the chemical compositions of their atmospheres, and even the physical characteristics of their surfaces. Ultimately, direct measurements, when conducted from space, can be used to better understand the origin of Earth and to look for signs of life in other worlds."

Project 1640 is based on four major instruments (mounted at the focus of the 200-inch Hale telescope) that image infrared light generated by stars and the warm, young planets orbiting them. The instruments are now in operation and producing some of the highest-contrast images ever made, revealing celestial objects 1 million to 10 million times fainter than the star at the center of the image.

"Imaging planets directly is supremely challenging," said Charles Beichman, executive director of the NASA ExoPlanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology. "Imagine trying to see a firefly whirling around a searchlight more than a thousand miles away."

Learn more here: Astrobio

edit on 7-7-2012 by elevenaugust because: spelling!

posted on Jul, 7 2012 @ 07:14 AM
What's more, if they detect a flash of aluminum before and after occultation, they'll know that the planet has a halo of artificial satellites, like Earth. Good find, S&F.

posted on Jul, 7 2012 @ 03:14 PM
reply to post by DJW001

They are targeting young planets.

I doubt there's any intelligent life on them.

posted on Jul, 8 2012 @ 01:03 PM
reply to post by elevenaugust

Nice post s&f

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