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Waxing lyrical about exoplanets May 28, 2009

Posted by Sarah in new astronomy, science, space.
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This year we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first published astronomical observations with a telescope, by Galileo Galilei. Galilei used his telescope to observe the changing phases of Venus and reveal the true configuration of the Solar System. Now, exactly four centuries later, CoRoT observations have shown the changing phases of an extrasolar planet for the first time in optical light.

Blimey, is that a Nature-worthy cheesy quote or what?! And …. that’s exactly what it is*. (more…)

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Super-earth confirmed, first of many? February 3, 2009

Posted by Sarah in science.
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Today with much to-do and under heavy embargoes, scientists have announced the discovery of an extrasolar planet with a mass diameter of just 1.7 times that of the Earth. That’s very very small. With a mass of It whizzes around its host star, Exo-7, in around 20 hours and with a temperature of over 1,000 degrees, is incredibly hot. Using data from the satellite CoRoT (Convection Rotation and planetray Transits), the German-led French-led team of scientists detected the minute dip in the light coming from the host star from the planet passing in front of it. The discovery was confirmed with observations at a number of ground-based observatories, including VLT, the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope, McDonald Observatory.

In case you hadn’t noticed: exoplanet news is coming hard and fast. Every year since 1995, when Mayor & Queloz reported the discovery of 51 Peg b, has seen a number of “major breakthroughs” (see here, here, and many more) in the detection and characterisation of planets around other stars in our Galaxy.  Scientists have pushed the boundaries of our knowledge to a massive extent, and the rapid progress is just fantastic. But brace yourself for more.

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