In Brief; August 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Leutwyler; 3 Page(s)
New Planet? A California astronomer has snapped what appears to be the first image of a planet outside our solar system. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, Susan Terebey photographed the object, believed to be two to three times the mass of Jupiter, escaping from a pair of young binary stars 450 light-years away. The supposed planet is connected to the stars by a filament of light, probably an artifact of its trajectory. Life on the new body is unlikely, as its surface temperature is several thousands of degrees. Even so, the discovery could change ideas of how planets usually form.
Polarized Vision Researchers have figured out why squid don¿t squint: like several other colorblind animals (but unlike people), these leggy ocean dwellers are visually sensitive to polarized light. Roger T. Hanlon, director of the Marine Resources Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., and his colleagues determined that polarization helps to enhance the contrast of the squid¿s black-and-white vision--enabling it to better detect prey, such as plankton, that have evolved transparent bodies for protection from predators.