3.1 quadrillion miles is a HELL of a long way away

From dvice.com:

Encircled in the picture [below] is the first planet from an alien solar system ever seen by humans. Located 500 light years from Earth, it’s a planet eight times bigger than Jupiter. While it looks close to this sun-sized star in the picture, it’s actually 11 times farther away from it than Neptune is from our sun.

If you squint, you can see little alien houses

If you squint, you can see little alien houses

The amazing thing about this image, quite apart from it being so clear considering it is the furthest we have ever looked into space at another planet, is that it wasn’t taken from Hubble, or another space orbit telescope, but it was taken by the Gemini North telescope at the top of Mona Kea, in Hawaii.

By reflecting light through the telescope on to a surface made of hundreds of tiny mirrors with motors underneath them, using special motion adaptive software, the telescope can account for and cancel-out the ripples of light distortion, caused by the Earth’s upper atmosphere, which ordinarily make it very difficult to get clear images of objects which are very far away.

Those space boffins sure know how to blow our minds, but they really need to work on their poetry. The planet’s name? 1RSX J160929.1-210524. It doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue guys.

Mirror coating being inspected shortly after first aluminum coating of the Gemini North mirror in 1999

Mirror coating being inspected shortly after first aluminum coating of the Gemini North mirror in 1999

4 comments on “3.1 quadrillion miles is a HELL of a long way away

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