How large was the telescope that first detected an exoplanet? © Getty Images

How large was the telescope that first detected an exoplanet?

It takes a ‘Very Large Telescope’ indeed to spot distant planets from another solar system.

Asked by: Edward Seymour, Hove

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The first-ever image of a planet beyond the Solar System was taken in 2005 by astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Known as 2M1207b, the planet is about 1.5 times bigger than Jupiter and around 170 light-years away. It was detected using one of the VLT’s four gigantic telescopes, whose light-gathering mirrors are an impressive 8.2 metres across.


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