Small telescope may speed star search

Jan 12, 2006

Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting a very young star nearly 100 light years away using a relatively small, publicly accessible telescope.

The feat suggests astronomers have found a way to accelerate dramatically the pace of the hunt for planets outside our solar system, researchers said.

The astronomers used the Exoplanet Tracker on the special 0.9-meter Coude feed system within the National Science Foundation's 2.1-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz.

The new planet is the most distant ever found using the Doppler technique with a telescope mirror less than 1 meter in size. There are hundreds of such telescopes worldwide, compared with just a handful of the larger telescopes more commonly used in planet finding, researchers said.

"These smaller telescopes are relatively cheap and relatively available," University of Florida astronomer Jian Ge said, "so you can often get access to many dozens of nights on them if you have a promising proposal."

Ge and colleagues from the University of Florida, Tennessee State University, the Institute of Astrophysics in Spain's Canary Islands, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas presented their findings Wednesday at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Washington.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: An unprecedented view of two hundred galaxies of the local universe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Turning the moon into a cosmic ray detector

Sep 26, 2014

Scientists from the University of Southampton are to turn the Moon into a giant particle detector to help understand the origin of Ultra-High-Energy (UHE) cosmic rays - the most energetic particles in the ...

Finding hints of gravitational waves in the stars

Sep 22, 2014

Scientists have shown how gravitational waves—invisible ripples in the fabric of space and time that propagate through the universe—might be "seen" by looking at the stars. The new model proposes that ...

Recommended for you

Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

4 hours ago

A frozen fuel pipe in the upper stage of a Soyuz launcher likely caused the failure last month to place two European navigation satellites in orbit, a source close to the inquiry said Wednesday.

Cyanide ice in Titan's atmosphere

6 hours ago

Gigantic polar clouds of hydrogen cyanide roughly four times the area of the UK are part of the impressive atmospheric diversity of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, a new study led by Leiden Observatory, ...

User comments : 0