Extrasolar Planet Candidate Imaged

Astronomers believe they have captured the first-ever image of a planet outside our own solar system. This extrasolar planet orbits a brown dwarf called 2MASSWJ 1207334-393254 (or 2M1207 for short.) The image was captured by the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) on the Hubble Space Telescope.

The first extrasolar planet was discovered in 1994 and the science of observing such planets is in its infancy. Several missions are planned over the next two decades to detect even more extrasolar planets, including planets the size of the Earth or smaller, and to eventually image them in such detail that individual features such as continents could be picked out.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory maintains a website devoted to this exploration. The current tally for discovered extrasolar planets stands at 134.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).

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