Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chance Of Finding Earthlike Planets On The Rise, UK Astronomers Believe

Date:
April 3, 2008
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society
Summary:
Using a revolutionary new camera, UK astronomers have a real chance of being the first to find Earth-like planets around other stars. Since the early 1990s, astronomers have found more than 200 planets in orbit around stars other than our Sun (so-called 'extrasolar' planets). These have been detected through two techniques that are particularly sensitive to massive planets in orbit close to their parent star.

An artists impression of an Hot Jupiter with a rocky companion.
Credit: NASA/ESA (G. Bacon)

Using a revolutionary new camera, UK astronomers have a real chance of being the first to find Earth-like planets around other stars. PhD student Neale Gibson of Queen’s University Belfast will present the first results from the RISE instrument in his talk on April 2 at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast.

RISE is a new fast camera designed by astronomers at Queen's University, Belfast (QUB) in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and is now installed on the 2m Liverpool Telescope on the Canary Island of La Palma.

Since the early 1990s, astronomers have found more than 200 planets in orbit around stars other than our Sun (so-called ‘extrasolar’ planets). These have been detected through two techniques that are particularly sensitive to massive planets in orbit close to their parent star. Firstly, planets can be found through their gravitational pull on the star they orbit - as the extrasolar planet moves the star wobbles back and forth. By measuring this movement astronomers can deduce the presence of a planet. Secondly, the transit search technique looks for the dip in brightness of a star as a planet passes in front of it.

However, neither of these techniques is currently good enough to find small extrasolar planets similar to the Earth. So far most of those found are so-called ‘hot Jupiters’ - large gas giant planets very close to their parent star.

The RISE camera is primarily designed to find Earth-mass planets in orbit around stars already known to host hot Jupiters. With RISE, scientists will search for extrasolar planets using a technique called transit timing, which may provide a short cut to discovering Earth-like planets with existing technology.

Transit timing works on the principle that an isolated hot Jupiter planet orbiting its host will have a constant orbital period (i.e. its ‘year’ remains the same) and therefore it will block out the light from its parent star in a regular and predictable way. During the planet’s transit events, RISE can very accurately measure the rise and fall in the amount of light reaching the Earth from the parent star – the camera can be used to pinpoint the time of the centre of the event to within 10 seconds.

By observing and timing their transits, astronomers hope to detect small changes in the orbital periods of known hot Jupiters caused by the gravitational pull of other planets in the same system. In the right circumstances, even planets as small as the Earth could be found in this way.

Gibson comments, “The potential of transit timing is the result of some very simple physics, where multi-planet systems will gravitationally kick one another around in their orbits - an effect often witnessed in our own Solar System. If Earth-mass planets are present in nearby orbits (which is predicted by current Hot-Jupiter formation theories) we will see their effect on the orbit of the larger transiting planets.”

‘RISE will allow us to observe and time the transits of extrasolar planets very accurately, which gives us the sensitivity required to detect the effect of even small Earth-mass planets”.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society. "Chance Of Finding Earthlike Planets On The Rise, UK Astronomers Believe." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080402201541.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society. (2008, April 3). Chance Of Finding Earthlike Planets On The Rise, UK Astronomers Believe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080402201541.htm
Royal Astronomical Society. "Chance Of Finding Earthlike Planets On The Rise, UK Astronomers Believe." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080402201541.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

NASA (July 25, 2014) Apollo 11 celebration, Next Giant Leap anticipation, ISS astronauts appear in the House and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins