Paul Kalas of the University of California led a team of fellow scientists using the Hubble Telescope to get past the stars brightness.
But advances in optics and image processing have allowed astronomers to effectively subtract the bright light from stars, leaving behind light from the planets. That light can either come in the infrared, caused by the planets' heat, or be reflected starlight (BBC).
This is a major advance in optics, and will help us as we continue following our dream to travel to other worlds and one day colonize them.
The study of the light directly from the planets will yield information about their atmospheres and surfaces that is impossible to collect from planets discovered indirectly (BBC).