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Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana

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Chapter 7

A Picture’s Worth

Images of Distant Worlds

There is something exciting about a picture of a planet circling another star. For most people I’ve spoken with, reading about hundreds of planets discovered through Doppler surveys, transit searches, and microlensing just does not compare with seeing an actual photograph of one. Somehow the photo makes it a “real” world, even if it is just a faint dot next to a bright, overexposed star. These people will be happy to hear that the era of direct imaging is here at last.

For an alien photographer that wants to capture a family portrait of our solar system from tens of light-years away, the challenge would be akin to catching a glimpse of a few fireflies right next to a bright searchlight from ...

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