||The first ever image of a planet outside
our Solar System: the European Southern
Observatory's VLT (Very Large Telescope) captured
this image of a Brown Dwarf star (center)
and it planetary companion.
The Paranal Observatory's 8.2 meter VLT
(click for press photos and information) created this
image out of a composite of three
near-infrared exposures. A brown dwarf is
not a full-fledged star, but does emit
strongly in the near-IR. A planet does not
generate heat like a star or Brown Dwarf so
IR imaging is required.
To me, nothing is more exciting in the world of
Astronomy than the detection of exoplanets. Using
incredible technology, we are able to detect a
planets affect on a star - either indirectly or
directly - in order to determine not only the
presence of an orbiting planet, but also the size of
the orbit, orbital velocity and planet mass.
using some of the fundamental
mathematics used in
other aspects of astronomy, we are able to apply
this knowledge to the study of exoplanets.
When discussing exoplanets, two terms often come
- Extra-solar planets (or extrasolar planets)
Both these terms are the same, describing a
planet or planetary system in orbit around any star
other than our
This site will break down the basic methods of
detection used by both
professionals. An excellent introduction is my
project paper on exoplanet detection.
Two recent links I found on the NASA website
includes some very wonderful information that
includes a very nice applet illustrating the
locations of the known planets:
The goal of this section is to outline my
my very own (soon-to-be) project of
planet searching. The other subsections provide
resources to learn more.
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