Over 100 new potential planets spotted

An global team of astronomers led by University of Hertfordshire have found 60 new planets, orbiting stars that are close to Earth's solar system.

The team is made up global scientists, this includes Dr Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, the team believe they have found another 54 planets which could bring the total to 114. Scientists described the planet as a hot super-Earth with rocky surface orbits the star GJ 411.

The huge HIRES data set consists of almost 61,000 measurements of more than 1,600 stars.

Researchers believe some of the planets they have discovered could support life, The Independent said. Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire led a sophisticated statistical analysis of the large data set to tease out the periodic signals most likely to be planets.

Using this information the scientists were able to track tiny colour changes in stars, which revealed the existence of planets.

The 60 new planets were found over a 20 year period by U.S. astronomers using the Keck-I telescope in Hawaii as part of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey.

For the first time the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey started in 1996 by Steve Vogt and Geoffrey Marcy, two famous astronomers from the University of California and Paul Butler, from the Carnegie Institute of Science, in Washington.

"This is something astronomers were not convinced about, even as little as five years ago". It represents a good chunk of my life's work'. The Keck planet survey has become an intergenerational project that keeps yielding important discoveries more than 20 years after it was initiated'. USA Today reported that with the help of Hawaii's Keck-I telescope, Butler stated that their discovery was a crowning glory as an astronomer as the newly discovered planets further understands and enhances the processes in planetary formations and for the effortless imaging planets in the future.

The radial velocity method takes advantage of the fact that the planet's gravity also affects the star.

While the lines of the star move very slightly in response to orbiting bodies like planets, the iodine lines do not move, providing a precise reference point. Gliese 411 and its orbiting planets are just eight light years from Earth, putting them right in our celestial backyard, but despite is relative proximity to our own planet, the star is still about six trillion miles away, so it's unlikely we'll be stopping by any time soon.

  • Tracy Ferguson