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First Images of New 'Alien' Planets Discovered in Space by Gemini Planet Imager [PICS]

(Photo : Reuters/NASA) The planet Jupiter is seen in this image released by NASA, November 24, 2010, which is a composite of three color images taken on November 18, 2010 by the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii.

The Gemini Planet Imager has discovered new distant "alien" planets.

According to, researchers released the first-ever images of these "alien planets." Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered in space with the Imager, opening a new chapter of exploration for scientists.


The Gemini Planet Imager detects gas planets, much like Jupiter, using infrared radiation.

The instrument, which is deployed on the 26-foot Gemini South telescope in Chile, one of the world's biggest telescopes, captured its "first light" November 2013. But scientists didn't reveal the images taken until The American Astronomical Society's meeting in Washington, held on Tuesday.

The Imager took an image of a planet that orbits around the star Beta Pictoris, taken in 60 seconds.

"Even these early first-light images are almost a factor of 10 better than the previous generation of instruments. In one minute, we are seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect," said Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the team that built the instrument.

"In one minute, we are seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect," Macintosh said.

"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," he added.

According to, Gemini Planet Imager plans to publish the data from its first run in February, before commencing a large-scale planet survey in the second half of 2014.

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