The lookout for new planets in our solar system is going strong and science keeps bringing more proof that there is more out there than we may think. A robot telescope discovers three new planets near Earth.
A robotic telescope discovered three new planets up to 8 times larger than Earth which are orbiting around a star close to our planet.
The star of the three planets is called HD 7924,is located at a distance of only 54 light years away from Earth and is practically considered a neighbor of our sun.
All the planets are orbiting the star at a very close distance, closer than Mercury is to our sun which is 35.9 million miles. The three planets complete a full orbit around the star one in five days, another in 15 days, respectively the furthest in 24 days, explained scientists.
The planets were discovered with the help of the Automated Planet Finder Telescope from the Lick Observatory based in California in collaboration with the W M Keck Observatory located on Maunakea.
Hawaiian researchers have been using the Doppler technique to establish the orbits of the three planets, a technique which has previously discovered many other planets orbiting closely to stars.
At the beginning scientists used the Automated Planet Finder as a telescope and spent nights looking for the star and small planets. With time, researchers realized that it would be easier to allow the computer to do the night shift and they have created a special soft that would permit the robot to do the job.
This has been an immense help for astronomers who said that they will be relying on this type of telescope in the future. Working with APF is similar to owning a self driving car that searches for planets, stated Andrew Howard from the University of Hawaii.
Specialists from the University of Hawaii, the University of California (and California Observatory), and Tennessee State University have been collaborating for many years to prove that the planets actually existed.
The three discovered planets are resembling nothing in our solar system as they have masses between 7 and 8 times greater than Earth and they are orbiting very near to their star, explained Lauren Weiss, who has graduated from UC Berkley.
This type of scientific discovery is expected to occur many times in the near future and researchers are hoping to find many others planets orbiting stars.
Astronomers used advanced technology like the APF, APT and the Keck Observatory to confirm that the space bodies found are indeed planets. It happened for sunspots present on the sun to be confused for small planets. It took researcher years to make the difference between sunspots and actual planets, stated Evan Sinukoff who participated in the research.
So far, the majority of the planets found outside our solar system have been huge, similar to Neptune, which has 17 times Earth’s mass, or even bigger, similar to Jupiter which are few hundred times Earth’s mass. The use of the AFP will allow scientists to discover smaller planets orbiting close stars which may present life friendly conditions.
The new discovery has been published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Image Source: newscenter