Christmas Eve, 1968 -- Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders took a picture that would soon reframe humanity's view of the universe. It was an image of Earth, except from the moon's vantage point.
When you look at this picture, a crisp planet stares back at you, levitating just above the lunar horizon like a turquoise sunrise. And this very resemblance earned Anders' photograph the perfect name: "Earthrise."
Since the time Anders took his shot from a moon-orbiting spacecraft, scientists have procured absolutely mind-blowing pictures of Saturn's rocky rings, and even -- but these photos barely scratch the surface of our universe's planetary society.
There are thousands more alien worlds floating beyond our solar system, but they remain hidden to the human eye because they're light-years on light-years away from us. Our telescopes are too far away to capture their beauty. They show up only as blurry dots of light -- if they show up at all.
Soon, however, these fuzzy exoplanets might come into focus. On Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal, a team of Stanford researchers outlined a futuristic telescope concept that could theoretically take photographs of foreign orbs with enough clarity to rival even Anders' iconic Earthrise.
It's called the "gravity telescope."
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