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Monthly Archives: December 2007


Altair is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila and the twelfth brightest star in the nighttime sky, at visual magnitude 0.77.


This image is arguably the most accurate depiction of a star beyond our sun ever rendered. It is based on an actual direct imaging of the star Altair. Using four independent telescopes, a group of scientists led by the University of Michigan was able to capture a direct image of the star 100 times sharper than the best Hubble images of the star.

Actual image of altair

The flattened appearance of the Altair is due to its extremely rapid rotation, effectively flattening the star at the poles.


“OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb orbits around its star at an average distance of 2.0 to 4.1 AU, or an orbit that would fall between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in our own solar system. The variation in distance is the range of error in measurement and calculation; it does not represent its orbital eccentricity, as the planet’s orbital elements are not known. Until this discovery, no small exoplanet had been found farther than 0.15 AUs from a main sequence star. The planet takes approximately 10 Earth years to orbit its star”


This is the image which inspired this blog. It is a beautiful view of one of the handful of known Earth-like exoplanets (super-Earths). Scientists expect this planet would maintain a thin atmosphere at best, so the depiction of a thick blue atmosphere is likely inaccurate. One can’t argue, however, with the attractiveness of the effect