Scientists Snap First Images of New Planets

Three-planet, one-planet systems caught on camera
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2008 3:55 PM CST
The Hubble Telescope photographed this image of a planet, known as Fomalhaut b, which is no more that a white speck in the lower right portion of the dust ring that surrounds the star in the center.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – Scientists have photographed planets outside our solar system for the first time, reports. One team captured images of a three-planet system orbiting a star in the Pegasus constellation, while another group snapped a planet rotating around the star Fomalhaut. The planets can't support life or little green men, but one astronomer says the photos are “a crucial step on the road to the ultimate detection of another Earth."

Before now, astronomers have been able only to presume the whereabouts of other planets by detecting their gravitational pulls or observing changes in stars’ light. “We've been trying to image planets for 8 years with no luck and now we have pictures of three planets at once,” says a scientist from one team.