WASHINGTON – Earth seems to have its first fuzzy photos of alien planets outside our solar system, images captured by two teams of astronomers. The pictures show four likely planets that appear as specks of white, nearly indecipherable except to the most eagle-eyed experts. All are trillions of miles away — three of them orbiting the same star, and the fourth circling a different star.
None of the four giant gaseous planets are remotely habitable or remotely like Earth. But they raise the possibility of others more hospitable.
It's only a matter of time before "we get a dot that's blue and Earthlike," said astronomer Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab. He led one of the two teams of photographers.
"It is a step on that road to understand if there are other planets like Earth and potentially life out there," he said.Macintosh's team used two ground-based telescopes, while the second team relied on photos from the 18-year-old Hubble Space Telescope to gather images of the exoplanets — planets that don't circle our sun. The research from both teams was published in Thursday's
Photo from AP, by NASA