Qatar-led international team discovers a new alien world

Posted By: Staff
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Washington, Dec 15 (ANI): They are not just an exciting part of sci-fi flicks; they exist in real world too. And here's another evidence to prove that-researchers have discovered a new alien world.

A Qatar led international team of researchers has found 'hot Jupiter,' now named Qatar-1b. The discovery has added to the growing list of alien planets orbiting distant stars.

The Qatar exoplanet survey hunts for stars that 'wink,' dimming slightly every time an orbiting planet creates a 'mini-eclipse' by crossing in front of the star as seen from Earth.

Transit searches like this must sift through thousands of stars to find the small fraction with detectable planets. The complex observations and analysis create perfect opportunities for teamwork.

"The discovery of Qatar-1b is a wonderful example of how science and modern communications can erase international borders and time zones. No one owns the stars. We can all be inspired by the discovery of distant worlds," said CfA team member David Latham.

To find the new world, Qatar's wide-angle cameras (located in New Mexico) took images of the sky every clear night beginning in early 2010.

The Harvard-Smithsonian team, with Khalid Al Subai, leader of the Qatar exoplanet survey followed up on the most promising candidates, making spectroscopic observations with the 60-inch-diameter telescope at the Smithsonian's Whipple Observatory in Arizona.

Such observations can weed out binary-star systems with grazing eclipses, which mimic planetary transits. They also measured the stars' dimming more accurately with Whipple's 48-inch telescope.

The resulting data confirmed the existence of a planet now called Qatar-1b, orbiting an orange Type K star 550 light-years away. Qatar-1b is a gas giant 20 percent larger than Jupiter in diameter and 10 percent more massive.

It belongs to the 'hot Jupiter' family because it orbits 2.2 million miles from its star - only six stellar radii away. The planet roasts at a temperature of around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Qatar-1b circles its star once every 1.4 days, meaning that its 'year' is just 34 hours long and the planet spins on its axis once every 34 hours. (ANI)

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