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: Mysteries of space dust revealed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mysteries of space dust revealed

12 hours ago

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA's Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks open a door to studying the origins of the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

Best view yet of merging galaxies in distant universe

Aug 26, 2014

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and other telescopes, an international team of astronomers has obtained the best view yet of a collision that took place between two galaxies when the ...

Swirling electrons in the whirlpool galaxy

Aug 20, 2014

The whirlpool galaxy Messier 51 (M51) is seen from a distance of approximately 30 million light years. This galaxy appears almost face-on and displays a beautiful system of spiral arms.

Exoplanet measured with remarkable precision

Aug 19, 2014

Barely 30 years ago, the only planets astronomers had found were located right here in our own solar system. The Milky Way is chock-full of stars, millions of them similar to our own sun. Yet the tally ...

Recommended for you

A guide to the 2014 Neptune opposition season

17 hours ago

Never seen Neptune? Now is a good time to try, as the outermost ice giant world reaches opposition this weekend at 14:00 Universal Time (UT) or 10:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 29th. This means that the distant ...

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

17 hours ago

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative: A citizen forum

Aug 28, 2014

In its history, the Earth has been repeatedly struck by asteroids, large chunks of rock from space that can cause considerable damage in a collision. Can we—or should we—try to protect Earth from potentially ...

User comments : 0