Ad astra

First photographs of exosolar planets.

The firs three are in the system is HR 8799.

Astronomers have taken what they say are the first-ever direct images of planets outside of our solar system, including a visible-light snapshot of a single-planet system and an infrared picture of a multiple-planet system.

Earth-like worlds might also exist in the three-planet system, but if so they are too dim to photograph. The other newfound planet orbits a star called Fomalhaut, which is visible without the aid of a telescope. It is the 18th brightest star in the sky.

The massive worlds, each much heftier than Jupiter (at least for the three-planet system), could change how astronomers define the term "planet," one planet-hunter said.

Change how astronomers define the term planet, eh? Well, I for one have had enough of that! Now, before the scientific community gets a chance to pull a Pluto and say that they are not planets, because they don’t sweep out an atmospheric orbit or somesuch, I feel that we, the leaders of the New Space Princess speculative fiction movement, should intrude ourselves into the spotlight of world scientific affairs. Planets should be defined by science fiction writers, not by scientists!

First, we don’t like the name HR 8799. It’s not catchy enough. Henceforth, the star shall be called The Black Sun of the Shadow of Doom, or, for short, Doomshadow.

  • The inner planet located at 24 AU, or Doomshadow I, will be called Aura;
  • the second planet orbiting at 38 AU will be called Ardala;
  • the third at 68 AU will be called Allura.

Until such time as it is scientifically proven beyond doubt that the planets of system Doomshadow are not ruled by a superscientific quasi-Mandarin tyrant with one to three evil but beautiful daughters, it must be posited in all scientific literature that this is the case. He shall be known informally as Shiwan-Fang or on official occasions, such as radium executions or man-ape vs. mutant gladiator festivals, as Lord Dread, Tyrant of Doomshadow.

It will also be posited, until proven otherwise, that the innermost planet Aura is inhabited by telepathic Amazon warrior-babes; that Ardala is a steaming jungle world infested with roaring super-dinosaurs; and that Allura is overrun with robotic death-ninjas. And space pirates. There have to be space pirates.

No matter who the real scientist was who discovered these planets and took this photograph*, from now on, credit for the discovery shall go to Doctor Mabuse, the napoleon of crime; and scientific periodicals will report, as if it is fact, the idea that Dr. Mabuse was in telepathic contact with Lord Dread by means of an interstellar-range superhypnotic mind-laser. He intends to use the discovery to forward his power mad schemes.

Whether it was actually the case or not, scientific periodicals will report that the Academy of Sciences mocked and dismissed the theory of photographing exosolar planets, and that Mabuse stormed out of the meeting, vowing revenge against those who belittled him, and retreated to his island fortress in the Arctic, where his observatory-stronghold rests atop an extinct volcano crater.

Dr. Mabuse: Stare deeply into his Eyes

The other exosolar planet photographed circled Fomalhaut, which is a properly way-cool space name, and needs no improvement. That planet shall be henceforth called Leia, the Planet of Mystery.


* Christian Marois of the NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Canada.