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Impearls: 4″ telescope discovers planet 500 light years away

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Earthdate 2004-09-11

4″ telescope discovers planet 500 light years away

Interesting news item, entitled “Tiny telescope takes long view to discover big planet,” from last week's Nature journal: 1

A graduate student scored a victory for the little guys last week by discovering a Jupiter-sized planet some 500 light years from Earth using a telescope just 10 centimetres [4 inches] in diameter — smaller than many amateur astronomers have in their backyards.

The discovery was made by Roi Alonso, a student at the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands on Tenerife, Spain, and part of an international team running the Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey (TrES).  The planet, which lies in the constellation Lyra, isn't the biggest or farthest planet yet discovered, nor the first to be detected by the transit method, which looks for a slight dip in a star's brightness as a planet passes across it.  But it is the first pay-off for the TrES survey, which uses three small telescopes in the Canary Islands, Arizona and California to search 12,000 bright stars for planets.  Researchers will try to confirm the existence of the planet, dubbed TrES-1, using the 10-metre Keck Telescope in Hawaii. 2
 
 

References

1 Nature, Vol. 431, pp. 8-9, (Issue dated 2004-09-02); doi:10.1038/431008a.

2TrES-1: The Transiting Planet of a Bright K0V Star,” Astrophysics, abstract, astro-ph/0408421 (dated 2004-08-23).



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