Yes... we have detected extrasolar planets before. No big whoop.
But now... NOW... we have DIRECT OBSERVATION of MULTIPLE planets orbiting around other stars.
More and more the evidence mounts that for a star to have planets is a very common thing. Just think... all those worlds available to explore, populate, and strip mine.
Yeah. That's cool. Now all we need is a way to get there.
---Ars TechnicaThree planets directly observed orbiting distant star
By John Timmer
| Published: November 13, 2008 - 01:00PM CT
* Earth-like planets orbiting other stars on the horizon
* Seeing a planet through the dust
* Astrobiologists ponder the laws of life
Over the past decade, researchers have made incredible strides in their quest to identify stars that are orbited by planets—you can track their accelerating progress right here at Ars. But most of these planets have been identified indirectly, either through their gravitational effects or when their orbit takes them between Earth and their host star. The few extrasolar objects that we have seen orbiting stars tend to be big and hot, awkwardly straddling the border between super-Jupiters and brown dwarfs. But today's issue of Science Express (where the journal Science puts its early, online-only releases) will contain two papers that describe direct observations of extrasolar planets, including three orbiting a single star. [...]