Well, it had to happen eventually.
We finally developed the technology to observe planets from outside the Solar System from the ground.
A planet outside of our solar system, said to be the first ever directly photographed by telescopes on Earth, has been officially confirmed to be orbiting a sun-like star, according to follow-up observations.
The alien planet is eight times the mass of Jupiter and orbits at an unusually great distance from its host star — more than 300 times farther from the star than our Earth is from the sun.
Astronomers first discovered the planet in 2008 using visible light observations from telescopes on Earth, making it the first direct photo of an extrasolar world. But at the time there was still the remote chance that it only looked like it was orbiting the star, from the perspective of Earth, due to a lucky alignment of object, star and observer.
“Our new observations rule out this chance alignment possibility, and thus confirms that the planet and the star are related to each other,” said astronomer David Lafreniere, who led the research team that discovered the planet.
The new observations that confirm the planet circles its parent star were made using high-resolution adaptive optics technology at the Gemini Observatory. The observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes, located at Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Cerro Pachon in northern Chile.
Planet around young star
The host star, which has an estimated mass of about 85 percent that of our sun, is located approximately 500 light-years away in a group of young stars called the Upper Scorpius Association that formed about 5 million years ago.
The planet has an estimated temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,500 degrees Celsius). This makes the planet much hotter than Jupiter, which has an atmospheric cloud-top temperature of approximately minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 110 degrees Celsius).
The planet is a super-duper Jupiter type, which probably aided in it’s discovery by us.
Our technology in this field is only going to get better in the coming years, so IMHO it won’t be too long before we’re spying on some poor creature doing the equivalent of sitting on the john and reading the paper on some nearby exoplanet.
And how do we know that somebody isn’t already doing that to us?