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Saturday, March 26, 2005
 
Scientists see the light as they find two far-off planets

PETER RANSCOMBE
24 March 2005

LIGHT from two planets orbiting distant stars has been detected for the first time by competing teams of American scientists.

The two groups each used NASA’s Spitzer space telescope to observe infra-red light coming from the far-off worlds. The two gas giants, or Hot Jupiters, follow an orbit that is very close to their parent stars. This causes the planets’ atmospheres to heat up and then give off some of that heat as infra-red radiation, which the telescope spotted.

More than 130 planets have been found orbiting other stars since 1995 but never through directly detecting the light they emit. Until now, these "exoplanets" have been found by watching the dip in the amount of light coming towards Earth, caused when a Hot Jupiter passes between us and the star it orbits.

From: The Scotsman

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