Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh brave new worlds.

Sometimes we take our place in the universe just a tad for granted. As humans, we tend to be just a bit self centered, forgetting that we are really just part of a vast cosmic entity. Are we alone? Who knows, but we just got one step closer to that answer.

It seems that for the first time, scientists have actually photographed planets orbiting not just around one, but two stars. While we have known since about 1995 that there are other planets ("exoplanets") that orbit other stars, detecting them has been done by very indirect means. Now, the holy grail of planetary astronomy has been achieved, actually being able to see these planets with a telescope. Hubble was one of the one's used:

Yep, that little dot in the circle is a planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut. It's apparently just a baby planet, only 60 million years old, in a star system only 25 light-years away. This is practically around the block in astronomical terms. Read the article for the information on the other star and its three, count 'em three planets, that orbit it.

So get your hyperdrive engines tuned up, we're taking a road trip to Fomalhaut! Oh, and bring something to snack on please, and go to the bathroom first.


BenefitScroungingScum said...

Wow, that's amazing thank you for this post MrN I'd not seen anything about this on the news.
I always say only humans would be arrogant enough to believe they are the only intelligent life form-though I think I might have arrogantly nicked that from someone like Dr Who!

Peter said...

Whenever I read these stories and see these pictures (I hadn't seem them before)
I start getting that "we're really just a drop in the ocean" feeling.

And like drops in the human ocean, I long decided to focus more on the here and now.

jay said...

I saw this on TV today and I was struck by much the same thoughts as you. How arrogant to think we were alone and unique. How arrogant to think there was no other intelligent life in the whole universe!

I was also struck by the amazing similarity between the pictures sent back and the futuristic paintings of other worlds being produced decades before this was possible.

Even though they are false colour. Even though we can't yet get very close. They look somehow familiar.

Retiredandcrazy said...

I remember watching a film on TV years ago. It started with a child rowing a boat and getting bitten by a mosquito. The camera panned in on the bit and then into the bloodstream, deeper and deeper into the atoms etc. Then it panned out again slowing leaving the boy in the boat and the world and the milky way, out, out into the universe. It was so profound and left me thinking are we a mere atom floating in bloodstream of the universe?

Guyana-Gyal said...

Yet we humans are so arrogant, eh? I can never understand that.