Teams at the Gemini Observatory in Chile announced the functionality of their long-awaited Gemini Planet Imager by releasing the above picture, the first in what is expected to become a string of exoplanet images from across the galaxy. Gizmodo reports:
Acquired by the world's most powerful planet-hunting instrument, the Gemini Planet Imager, it shows a 10-million-year-old planet called Beta Pictorus orbiting its giant parent star [at a distance of 63 light years from Earth]. It's the first such image to come from Gemini, which has been under development for over a decade but is only now producing data like this.
The Imager detects infrared radiation to readily spot young planets, whose post-formation afterglow is in that part of the spectrum, while masking light emitted by parent stars that can often interfere with images.
While only around a dozen exoplanets have been directly photographed to date, the Gemini’s advanced technology is enabling its team to already begin analyzing 600 other young stars and the planets that surround them.
The Imager has also taken some impressive shots of polarized light of stars and Jupiter's moon Europa. Check them out, AFTER THE JUMP...