QEERI DIS­COV­ERS THREE NEW PLAN­ETS

Qatar Today - - AFFAIRS > LOCAL -

Sci­en­tists at the Qatar En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy Re­search In­sti­tute (QEERI) an­nounced the dis­cov­ery of three new ex­tra­so­lar plan­ets (ex­o­plan­ets), found us­ing op­ti­cal Earth-based tele­scopes.

The dis­cov­ery was made as part of the on­go­ing Qatar Exoplanet Sur­vey (QES) that is funded by the Qatar Na­tional Re­search Fund. The team iden­ti­fied the new ex­o­plan­ets us­ing tens of thou­sands of im­ages col­lected by the ded­i­cated QES tele­scopes in New Mex­ico (USA), Tener­ife (Spain) and Urumqi (China). Fol­low­ing an agree­ment with the In­ter­na­tional As­tro­nom­i­cal Union (IAU), the three new plan­ets are of­fi­cially named Qatar-3b, Qatar-4b and Qatar-5b. Ex­o­plan­ets are plan­ets or­bit­ing around other stars, out­side of the Earth’s so­lar sys­tem. The three newly dis­cov­ered ex­o­plan­ets be­long to a cat­e­gory astronomers call “hot Jupiters”, plan­ets that are in size sim­i­lar to that of Jupiter (the largest planet in our so­lar sys­tem), which are lo­cated very close to their host star and, due to this prox­im­ity, have tem­per­a­tures that range be­tween 1,200 and 3,000 de­grees Cel­sius. Hot Jupiters typ­i­cally take about one to 10 Earth days for a full or­bit around their host star as “a year” on the hot Jupiters lasts only 1-10 Earth days. The three new ex­o­plan­ets have sizes be­tween 1 and 1.5 times that of Jupiter (12 to 17 times larger than the Earth) and tem­per­a­tures be­tween 1,400 and 1,700 Cel­sius, com­plet­ing full or­bits around their stars in times rang­ing be­tween 1.8 and 2.9 Earth days. The dis­tances to the new plan­ets were cal­cu­lated to be in the or­der of 1,400 to 1,800 light years away, where a light year is equal to 10 tril­lion kilo­me­ters.

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