Kiwi ‘astrographs’ other solar system

A New Zealander has captured the first amateur photograph of solar system other than our own, drawing international attention.

Rolf Olsen, of Titirangi, captured the star Beta Pictoris, and the disk of debris and dust orbiting it, by taking a series of photos and subtracting differences in the images  using Photoshop.

You can see the original image on Rolf Olsen’s website, here.

The storyreceived local media attention after it was first reported in the UK’s Daily Mail (later published in the New Zealand Herald). Further New Zealand coverage included and other Fairfax papers.

An excerpt from (read in full here):

Kiwi’s space photos stun astronomers

A New Zealand man has been hailed as the first amateur photographer to capture an image of another solar system.

Aucklander Rolf Olsen has captured the star Beta Pictoris, and the disk of debris and dust orbiting it, in a stunning image that has amazed astronomers worldwide.

“I realised it was a special thing but I didn’t realise it would generate such a stir,” Rolf said.

The photo shows the protoplanetary disk surrounding the star. The disk represents a developing solar system, and the material inside the disk could develop into planets and asteroids.

“This is a very young system thought to be only around 12 million years old and is essentially similar to how our own solar system must have formed some 4.5 billion years ago,” Olsen wrote on his website. 

The incredible thing is that Olsen took the photo of the star, which is 63.4 light years away, using a 25cm telescope at his Titirangi home, a feat that has been described by those in astro-circles as a “milestone”.

Astronomer and astro-photographer John Field, from Wellington’s Carter Observatory, said Olsen’s picture was “absolutely amazing”.

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