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Thursday, November 13, 2008

First photographs made of extra-solar planets

We've known they were out there for over a decade. Now two groups of astronomers have captured the first photographs of planets orbiting stars far beyond our own solar system. Images of the star HR 8799 turned up three planets, including this first-ever direct photo of an alien world...

And the Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a planet circling Fomalhaut.

In case yer wondering: these are not planets anything like our own Earth. They're believed to be more along the lines of the "gas giants" like Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. But with increasingly refined imaging technology, astronomers tell us that it's no doubt just a matter of time before a world - possibly one that could harbor life - is found waaaaaaaay out there!