News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

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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