View Full Version : Hubble Takes First Visible Light Image of Extrasolar Planet

2008-Nov-13, 08:10 PM
Persistence has paid off for astronomer Paul Kalas. After eight years and taking repeated photographs with the Hubble Space Telescope of a nearby star, he finally has what he and many astronomers have been striving for: the first visible-light snapshot of a planet outside our solar system. This coincides with the [...]

More... (http://www.universetoday.com/2008/11/13/hubble-take-first-visible-light-image-of-extrasolar-planet/)

2008-Nov-18, 02:43 AM
Hi, I was really excited when I heard about this.

I'd then like to ask - is there any limit on how finely we can resolve the details of a distant planet? I understand our atmosphere causes some problems, but there have been advances in adaptive optics, and there are also planned space-based telescopes. But so then is there any inherent physics-based limit on how finely we can make out details? (ie. like a 'barrier law')
For instance, might we be able to see continents on an Earth-like planet one day?
Or is that out of the question?

2008-Nov-18, 10:25 AM
Resolution is limited by the size of the telescope's mirror. This can be overcome by clever combining of simultaneous images of several telescopes. At some point, some other physical barriers will get in the way. I doubt you'll ever be able to catalog the types of leaves on alien trees from telescopes in our solar system.

2008-Nov-18, 02:19 PM
Partly quoting, Mr Kalas:
"I nearly had a heart attack at the end of May when I confirmed that Fomalhaut b orbits its parent star," Kalas said. "It's a profound and overwhelming experience to lay eyes on a planet never before seen."...

Congratulations Sir! You are in a class of your own.
Some achievement. Some experience heh!

i don't mean to sound as if i'm passing a cursory nonchalant comment, Mr Kalas.
i am seriously awed. by what you are doing. and have done.