July 22, 2003
Farthest-Away Ever Planet Found
Um. Aren't the planets we find going to be further and further away as equipment such as the Hubble Telescope travels further and further into space?
Anyway, here's a little clip on it from last week from KPIX Channel 5 in San Francisco:
Posted by Lisa at July 22, 2003 09:17 AM
KPIX On The New Distant Planet
Me A to Z (A Work In Progress)
Hi Lisa... didn't get a chance to meet you at iLaw (I was the dude with large sideburns if you noticed). I don't know if you read your comments but... I'm an astronomer (not for long!) and can comment on this.
The main reason for having Hubble in space is that it is really hard to see through the atmosphere at certain wavelengths. As well, the farther away something is, the dimmer it appears to our telescopes... that's why we build bigger and bigger telescopes... to see farther and farther away.
How far away from Earth we place our telescopes will make little difference as to how far away our discoveries are... the space between stars is huge... not so with galaxies (relatively)... for example, if you could reduce our sun to the size of a basketball, the next closest star (also about the size of a basketball) would be in Hawaii (if the "Sun" is in the East Bay like me)... if you reduce our entire galaxy to the size of a basketball, the next closest galaxy would be in the next room! (this is also why galaxies seem to collide frequently (they're not too far apart)... but when they collide their stars don't hit each other... it's like two swarms of bees colliding)
I don't know about and can't reach the channel 2 story, but I wanted to offer one correction of what appears to be a misunderstanding on your part. The Hubble Telescope is not traveling further away in space, it is orbiting the Earth about 200-300 miles up in an orbit that is slowly getting lower (they boost it up to the higher orbit with the Shuttle every time they fix it).
As a former engineer with the project that built it, I can tell you it was never intended to find distant planets. This is an 'out of the box' use for the telescope. It's just an example of what you can do, given a chance.
Keep up the great blog.
Charlie in NE Ohio