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The best images of planets beyond our solar system

24 Jun 2017, 00:14 UTC
The best images of planets beyond our solar system
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The last ten years have been an amazing time: Growing up the idea of finding planets around other stars was mentioned to me in textbooks... at the very end, usually in the same very short chapter that mentioned ideas like space hotels, finding intelligent aliens, or building colonies on Mars.Above: A private SpaceX space capsule on Mars. Good luck borrowing sugar from the neighbours guys... And, now, we have found thousands of planets around other stars. Many of them are far stranger than my textbooks expected, which assumed we'd find that solar systems similar to our own. The reality has been that solar systems come in all kinds of exotic configurations. Those books thought we'd be finding these worlds with direct imaging, using massive telescopes - by and large we haven't: Almost all of them were found by indirect means, like watching for stars wobbling, planets occulting the stars they orbit, or gravitational lensing of the light from background stars*.But not quite all: Although it's still very hard to do, some exo planets have been photographed directly by very, very large telescopes just like my textbooks expected. Below are some of the best. Think of them as a teaser for ...

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