And this is only the beginning.
“Most planets that we know about to date are only known because of indirect methods that tell us a planet is there, a bit about its orbit and mass, but not much else,” said Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who led the team that built the instrument. “With GPI we directly image planets around stars – it’s a bit like being able to dissect the system and really dive into the planet’s atmospheric makeup and characteristics.”
The left image shows shows normal light. The right image shows only polarized light. Leftover starlight is unpolarized and removed. The light from the back edge of the disk (to the right of the star) is strongly polarized as it reflects towards Earth, and thus it appears brighter than the forward-facing edge.
“Some day, there will be an instrument that will look a lot like GPI, on a telescope in space. And the images and spectra that will come out of that instrument will show a little blue dot that is another Earth.”
– Bruce Macintosh, GPI team leader
*The observations above were conducted last November during an “extremely trouble-free debut.” The Gemini South telescope is located near the summit of Cerro Pachon in central Chile, at an altitude of 2,722 meters.*
Source: Gemini Observatory press release
Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/107854/super-sensitive-camera-captures-a-direct-image-of-an-exoplanet/#ixzz2qUDXGHwX