NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope excites scientists all over the world as it is able to detect far away planets by using a new infrared technique. The telescope can detect extrasolar planets on their own merits, rather than detecting them by studying effects on other celestial bodies.
The telescope has detected light from two distant planets - one of the first opportunities for scientists to directly observe extraterrestrial worlds.
Drake Deming from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said that Spitzer is a powerful new tool to learn more about the temperature, atmospheres and orbits of planets hundreds of light-years from Earth.
Spitzer captured infrared emissions from the two extrasolar planets, known as HD 209458b and TrES-1. The two planets shine brightly because of their status as "hot Jupiters." The gas giants are similar to Jupiter but orbit so close to their respective stars that they become superheated to some 1,000° Kelvin (727° Celsius/1,340° Fahrenheit).
Three weeks ago Spitzer also discovered a group of extraordinary bright galaxies about 11 bilion light-years away.
Additional info about the discoveries of Spitzer at National Geographic