Really big news! News was released about 2 stars having a total of 4 extrasolar planets photographed. Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy has a much better and very excited post about this news. He also has images, which I will post at some later time. I don’t have much time at the moment, but I will say a bit about the planets.
First, there is a planet that the Hubble Telescope has imaged orbiting Fomalhaut, which is a very bright star in the sky. Fomalhaut b is orbiting at a distance of 18 billion km from Fomalhaut, and appears as only a tiny dot. There’s a ring surrounding the star, as well.
Second, there’s HR8799 and its 3 planets. Bad Astronomy has an image with only 2 of the planets, but there are images available that show all 3 planets (from the Keck Telescope). The Gemini North telescope imaged 2 of the planets. HR8799 is 130 light years from us, and is a bit bigger and brighter than the Sun. The planets orbit at 3.8, 6 and 10.5 billion km from HR8799.
This is very exciting! I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these images in the near future!