Oblate Spheroid's Solar System Expands to 32 Exoplanets
Astronomers have expanded the list of planets outside the solar system with their discovery of 32 new exoplanets using the European Southern Observatory's telescope in La Silla, Chile.
The expansion of The Earth's family was found through technology known as the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). HARPS is a spectrometer that can find planets by detecting a twitch in a star caused by the gravity of an orbiting planet.
This finding revealed Monday by the scientists who operate HARPS adds to the more than 400 as the number of planets seen outside of our previously defined Solar System.
This excerpted and edited from Wired Science -
Exoplanets Galore! 32 Alien Planets Discovered, Including Super-Earths
By Hadley Leggett, Wired Science - October 19, 2009, 2:12 pm
Thirty-two new alien orbs have just been added to the growing list of exoplanets, including several that qualify as “super-Earths,” meaning they have a mass only a few times that of our planet and could potentially harbor Earth-like environments.
In the past five years, a special exoplanet-hunting device attached to a 3.6-meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, has spotted more than 75 alien planets, including 24 of the 28 known exoplanets with a mass less than 20 times that of Earth.
“These findings consolidate the results of simulations of planet formation predicting a large population of super-Earths,” astrophysicist Stephane Udry of Geneva University wrote in an email to Wired.com. “The formation models furthermore predict an even larger population of Earth-mass planets, providing solid scientific justifications for the development of ambitious programs (in space and on the ground) to look for those Earth-type planets.”
Udry’s announcement of the HARPS team’s findings Monday at an exoplanet conference in Portugal marks the end of the first phase of HARPS research, and scientists say the project has been even more successful than they originally expected.
The HARPS scientists focused their exoplanet-hunting efforts on certain kinds of stars, including stars similar to our sun and those with low mass (called Mdwarfs) or low metal content.
“By targeting M dwarfs and harnessing the precision of HARPS, we have been able to search for exoplanets in the mass and temperature regime of super-Earths,” co-author Xavier Bonfils of the Joseph Fourier University in France said in a press release, “some even close to or inside the habitable zone around the star.”
The HARPS scientists aim to find an Earth-like planet capable of supporting life outside of our Oblate Spheroid.
So, in signing off - it's "Exo, Exo" ... not "XO, XO"!