April 30 2005

Planet ‘seen’ around distant sun

Well, this just might be some of the coolest news ever. We may finally have an actual picture of a planet outside of our solar system. (in the picture, it is the red “blob”)

a planet?

Up until now, we have discovered 130 or so instances of what we think might be planets, but never been able to prove it for sure. This one is over 200 light years (about 1,174,917,984,840,791 other words, no place we are going soon) away and circles a brown dwarf star near the Hydra constellation.

This was first discovered last yeat, but follow up study had to be done to make sure the two objects in the picture were locked by gravity, and it appears they are now. Of course, there are those who have to say this is all wrong:

Dr Chauvin added: “Given the rather unusual properties of the 2M1207 system, the giant planet most probably did not form like the planets in our Solar System.”

“Instead it must have formed the same way our Sun formed, by gravitational collapse of a cloud of gas and dust.”

As a consequence, there are bound to be some scientists who will still question if 2M1207B really is a planet.

Lynne Hillenbrand, an assistant professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, told the Associated Press news agency: “The claim of an object being a planet is subject to one’s definition of planet, and there are different camps on what that definition is.”

I don’t care, I think it is a planet and that is it just further proof that there has to be something else out there besides us. While it is highly unlikely that this planet has life as we know it, the concept that there is no other life in the universe, to me, is just plain silly. Even if it is a one cell ameoba, there is life elsewhere.

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