Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The (Super)Wasp Factory Finds 10 New Planets In The Last 6 Months

01.04.2008
In the last 6 months an international team of astronomers have used two batteries of cameras, one in the Canary Islands and one in South Africa, to discover 10 new planets in orbit around other stars (commonly known as extrasolar planets).

The results from the Wide Area Search for Planets (SuperWASP) will be announced by team member Dr Don Pollacco of Queen’s University Belfast, in his talk at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2008) on Tuesday 1 April.

Scientists have found more than 270 extrasolar planets since the first one was discovered in the early 1990s. Most of these are detected through their gravitational influence on the star they orbit – as it moves the planet pulls on the star, tugging it back and forth. However, making these discoveries depends on looking at each star over a period of weeks or months and so the pace of discovery is fairly slow.

SuperWASP uses a different method. The two sets of cameras watch for events known as transits, where a planet passes directly in front of a star and blocks out some of the star’s light, so from the Earth the star temporarily appears a little fainter. The SuperWASP cameras work as robots, surveying a large area of the sky at once and each night astronomers have data from millions of stars that they can check for transits and hence planets. The transit method also allows scientists to deduce the size and mass of each planet.

Each possible planet found using SuperWASP is then observed by astronomers working at the Nordic Optical Telescope on La Palma, the Swiss Euler Telescope in Chile and the Observatoire de Haute Provence in southern France, who use precision instruments to confirm or reject the discovery.

45 planets have now been discovered using the transit method, and since they started operation in 2004 the SuperWASP cameras have found 15 of them – making them by far the most successful discovery instruments in the world. The SuperWASP planets have masses between a middleweight 0.5 and a huge 8.3 times that of Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System. A number of these new worlds are quite exotic. For example, a year on WASP-12B (its orbital period) is just 1.1 days. The planet is so close to its star that its daytime temperature could reach a searing 2300 degrees Celsius.

Dr Pollacco is delighted with the results. “SuperWASP is now a planet-finding production line and will revolutionise the detection of large planets and our understanding of how they were formed. It’s a great triumph for European astronomers.”

FURTHER INFORMATION (INCLUDING IMAGES):

SuperWASP
Project website
http://www.superwasp.org
Images of the SuperWASP Cameras
1)http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/~dlp/SWASP_1.jpg - a close up of the 8 SuperWASP-North cameras.
2)http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/~dlp/SWASP_2.jpg - an aerial view of the SuperWASP-North cameras (courtesy of Damon Hart-Davis, http://d.hd.org/).

3)http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/~dlp/SWASP_3.jpg - the SuperWASP-South instrument.

Image of the Euler (Swiss) Telescope dome
http://www.cosmograil.org/images/euler-dome.jpg
Image of the SOPHIE spectrograph at the Observatoire de Haute Provence
http://www.obs-hp.fr/www/guide/sophie/sophie.html
RAS National Astronomy Meeting
http://nam2008.qub.ac.uk
RAS home page
http://www.ras.org.uk

Robert Massey | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ras.org.uk
http://nam2008.qub.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas

nachricht Calculating quietness
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>