First light from far-away planet shines the way to new earths

Published in Horizon, 9 Jun 2015

It isn’t easy to spot planets far away in our galaxy – normally we can only infer their presence, from the effect they have on their host stars. But now a group of astronomers has demonstrated an easier way to study distant worlds, by detecting the first visible light reflected off an exoplanet.

According to group member and PhD student Jorge Martins at the University of Porto in Portugal, seeing the exoplanet like this was rather like looking at a streetlamp one hundred metres away, and being able to glimpse a moth flying right next to it.

‘This detection is equivalent to detecting the light from the lamp, reflected on the wings of the moth,’ he said. […]

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