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Published on Oct 19, 2012
"Celebrating 400 years of the telescope with the first image of another Solar System" Dr. Christian Marois - NRC, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
Are there Earth-like planets orbiting other stars? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Humanity has been waiting for more than 2,000 years for an answer to these questions. With his invention, the telescope, Galileo Galilei saw for the first time another "mini" planetary system -- it was Jupiter and its moons. After 400 years of technological achievements, we now have large enough telescopes and good enough instruments to directly image planets orbiting other stars. For the past 8 years, my team and I have been using the world's biggest telescopes to search for planets orbiting nearby young stars. I will describe the path that we have followed that led, in 2008, to a breakthrough discovery -- the first images of a multi-planet system. This three Jupiter-like planets system, called HR 8799bcd, is located 130 light years from Earth. This detection marks a crucial first step in the ultimate quest of finding a life-sustaining Earth-like planet orbiting another star.