“a planet-finding production line..”

As briefly mentioned here, the Queens University astronomers responsible for the SuperWASP Camera on La Palma were named among the top ten scientific discoverers last year. And with Queens currently hosting the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting 2008, they’ve chosen this week to reveal the discovery of ten new exo-planets, bringing their personal tally to 15. Although, those particular exo-planets seem unlikely to have liquid water.. But others might have organic compounds..

Among the planets discovered using SuperWasp are WASP-12B. A year – its orbital period – on WASP-12B is just 1.1 days. The planet is so close to its star that its day-time temperature could reach a searing 2,300 degrees celsius. Scientists have found more than 270 extrasolar planets since the first one was discovered in the early 1990s, but the pace of discovery has been accelerated by SuperWasp technology.

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  • Greenflag

    Sounds like congrats all round for the Queen’s astronomoy team.

    270 planets so far and none as yet appear to be within the ‘goldilocks zone’ or if they are their Star (Sun ) is too small to ‘support ‘ earth size planets in orbit without the tidal effect i.e only one side facing the sun and the other in total darkness .

    I wonder at what point i.e 10,000 or 100,000 ex solar planets the astronomers will begin to consider the perhaps awful prospect that we may be ‘alone’ in the Milky Way Galaxy . SuperWasp technology may yet find an earth like planet that ‘s just right . Next problem how to get there ?

  • Pete Baker

    “Sounds like congrats all round for the Queen’s astronomoy team.”

    Indeed, Greenflag.

    As for your other points..

    For now, the current observational techniques are best suited to identifying large planets close to stars – in particular the transit analysis used by SuperWASP.

    Reaching for conclusions at this point would be unwise.. and unscientific.

  • Greenflag

    ‘the current observational techniques are best suited to identifying large planets close to stars’

    I recall reading an article a couple of days back which gave hope for a technology which would be suited to identifying smaller earth size planets . Am away from the source right now but I’ll pass it on later .

    GF confesses to being unwise and often unscientific . It’s his natural impatience:(

  • Pete Baker

    “hope for a technology..”

    i.e. not what is currently available to observers.

    As I said,

    “Reaching for conclusions at this point would be unwise.. and unscientific.”