Astronomers discover strange new planet

Sep 14, 2006
NASA montage of planets

U.S. astronomers have discovered a planet unlike any other known in the universe. Smithsonian scientists say the new planet was discovered using a network of small automated telescopes known as HATl. The planet -- designated HAT-P-1 -- orbits one member of a pair of distant stars 450 light-years away in the constellation Lacerta.

"We could be looking at an entirely new class of planets," said Gaspar Bakos, a Hubble fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

With a radius about 1.38 times that of Jupiter, HAT-P-1 is the largest known planet. But, in spite of its huge size, its mass is only half that of Jupiter.

"This planet is about one-quarter the density of water," Bakos said. "In other words, it's lighter than a giant ball of cork! Just like Saturn, it would float in a bathtub if you could find a tub big enough to hold it."

Astronomer Robert Boyes, co-discoverer of the planet, said, "This new discovery suggests something could be missing in our theories of how planets form."

Bakos is lead author of a paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal describing the discovery.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Life 'not as we know it' possible on Saturn's moon Titan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Transit Search Finds Super-Neptune

Jan 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have discovered a planet somewhat larger and more massive than Neptune orbiting a star 120 light-years from Earth. While Neptune ...

Recommended for you

Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, trick cable job

1 hour ago

(AP)—Spacewalking astronauts successfully completed a three-day cable job outside the International Space Station on Sunday, routing several-hundred feet of power and data lines for new crew capsules commissioned ...

Study of atmospheric 'froth' may help GPS communications

Feb 27, 2015

When you don't know how to get to an unfamiliar place, you probably rely on a smart phone or other device with a Global Positioning System (GPS) module for guidance. You may not realize that, especially at ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.