Friday, June 11, 2010


Here is a cool picture, it's not an artistic impression nor a CGI mock-up it's real, an actual exoplanet orbiting a star 63 light years from Earth. It was taken recently from the European Southern Observatory facility on a mountain top in Chile, it is the first direct observation of an exoplanet orbiting a star (other than our own Sun), this is exciting for a number of reasons, firstly it's a fantastic feat of science and secondly it helps to confirm the idea that planets like our own are two-a-penny in the universe, i.e. very common. The implication of planets being common is that life might also be common, even if the conditions for life occur on only one in a million planets there would still be a healthy surplus of billions of planets where it actually could evolve.

Our only challenge is that even if this planet has intelligent life living on it that has figured out how to detect electromagnetic radiation, they will only just be receiving our earliest radio broadcasts (i.e. made > 63 years ago), so they might be listening  to one of the first episodes of "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" from the BBC, they'll probably think it's a jolly spiffy parlour game :)

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