An international team of astronomers has found 10 new “extra solar” planets, planets that orbit stars other than our sun.
The team used a system of robotic cameras that yield a great deal of information about these other worlds, some of which are quite exotic. The system is expected to revolutionize scientific understanding of how planets form.
Two participating astronomers from the U.S. are Rachel Street and Tim Lister. Street is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGTN) located in Santa Barbara. Lister is a project scientist with LCOGTN.
Team leader, Don Pollaco of Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, will announce the findings in his talk at the Royal Astronomical Society’s national astronomy meeting in the U.K. on Wednesday, April 2.
The new international collaboration is called “SuperWASP,” for Wide Area Search for Planets.
This technique of locating the planets gives more information about the formation and evolution of the planets than the gravitational technique. Astronomers look for “transits,” moments when the planets pass in front of the star, like an eclipse, as viewed from the Earth.
In the last six months the SuperWASP team has used two batteries of cameras, one in Spain’s Canary Islands and one in South Africa, to discover the 10 new extra solar planets.
With the gravitational technique, scientists have discovered around 270 extra solar planets since the early 1990s. They measured the gravitational pull on the star that is exerted by the orbiting planet. As the planet moves, it 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, so the pace of discovery is slow.
The SuperWASP technique involves two sets of cameras to 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. 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. Each night astronomers receive data from millions of stars. They can then check for transits and hence planets. The transit technique also allows scientists to deduce the size and mass of each planet.
A team of collaborators around the world follows up each possible planet found by SuperWASP with more detailed observations to confirm or reject the discovery.
The astronomers working at the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGTN), affiliated with UC Santa Barbara, use robotically controlled telescopes in Arizona, Hawaii, and Australia. These telescopes provide high quality data used to select the best targets for intense observation. This, together with data from the Nordic Optical Telescope in La Palma, Spain; the Swiss Euler Telescope in Chile; and the Observatoire de Haute Provence in Southern France; provides the final confirmation of the new discoveries.
A total of 46 planets have been found to transit their stars. Since they started operation in 2004, the SuperWASP cameras have found 15 of these. SuperWASP is the most successful transit survey in the world.
The planets discovered by SuperWASP have masses between a middle weight of half the size of Jupiter to more than eight times the size of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
A number of these new worlds are very exotic. For example, a year, or one orbit, on WASP-12b, is just a bit over one day. This planet is so close to its star that its daytime temperature could reach a searing 2300 degrees Celsius.
Lister and Street from LCOGTN/UCSB are delighted with the results. Street described the discovery as a “very big step forward for the field.”
Lister said, “The flood of new discoveries from SuperWASP will revolutionize our understanding of how planets form. LCOGTN's flexible global network of telescopes is an indispensable part of the worldwide effort to learn about the new planets.”
Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
NASA laser communications to provide Orion faster connections
30.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Pinball at the atomic level
30.03.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering