Behold the First Ever Image of a Planet and Its Star Over 63 Light Years Away


Although it might not seem like much, the photo above might just be the most extraordinary image you have ever seen. Not because of crazy high megapixel count or amazing composition or even subject matter — we’ve seen images of planets orbiting stars before — but because it is the first ever image of a planet and its star over 63 light years away.

Lets put that in perspective. One light year is approximately 5.88 trillion miles. Multiply that by 63 and you realize that what you’re looking at is 370.44 trillion miles away. If your brain is smoking just trying to fathom that, you’re not alone.

Here’s a closer crop (click here to see the full res image):


The image was taken by the Gemini Planet Imager, an incredibly powerful instrument that sits right here on Earth — in Chile to be exact. Using the magic of Adaptive Optics, they were able to capture this groundbreaking image of the 10-million-year-old planet Beta Pictoris b orbiting the massive star Beta Pictoris.

But the best part? Now that the tech is up and running (after nearly a decade in development) images like this will become much more commonplace — giving us a glimpse into worlds unfathomably far away while affording scientists the data required to answer all sorts of intergalactic questions.

If you’d like to learn more about the photo — i.e. how it was taken and more details about what exactly it is you’re looking at — head over to the Gemini Observatory website by clicking here.

(via Gizmodo)

Thanks for sending in the tip, Sam!

  • araczynski

    maybe they’ll catch a glimpse of the Death Star V2 as well :)

  • Jono Whitehead

    63 light years seems remarkably close. Surely we’ve photographed stars and planets further away?

  • Stephen James

    Spell check required: “image of the 10-million-year-old planet Beta Pictoris b orbiting the massive start Beta Pictoris.” massive “start” should be “star.”

  • Robert

    A planet circling Fomalhut B was captured in a image made by Hubble in November 2008 as the first visible light image of a planet around a star

  • beautox

    Nah, composition is weak. Bokeh has weird artifacts. Too heavy on the post processing. Better in b/w

  • Burnin Biomass

    Given the size between the 2, is that a massive planet?

  • DLCade

    Seven times larger than Jupiter according to the Gemini Observatory website

  • DLCade

    Thanks for pointing that out Stephen! It’s been fixed :)

  • zero-0

    If they can see a planet that far away, does this mean they can spot an ant on the moon or Mars?

  • zero-0

    You’re probably right but this was using a prime lens and the guy was too lazy to everything into position for alternative shots.

  • zero-0

    who needs a spell checker when they have you.
    God you must be proud of your job.

  • zero-0

    Looks like a 16bit effort of trying to make a droplet hit water.

  • Amir Budiman

    Looks like a drop of water on Pepsi Blue…

  • Curtis Simmons

    Seems like old news. I mean the image is already 63yrs old.

  • prometheus1010

    Stars yes because they emit light, but planets are much more difficult to see.

  • Harry

    So, what you’re seeing is the planet 63 years ago.

  • SiriusPhotog

    It’s not about being the first ever photo of another planet. It’s about the distance. Fomalhut B is a mere 25 light years distance.