Feeds

Astronomers ID hottest ever extra solar planets

Pack high factor sun cream

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Scottish astronomers working on a new wide-field survey of the sky have identified two new extra-solar planets in the constellations of Andromeda and Delphinius. The planets have been dubbed Wasp-1a and Wasp-1b.

The planets are about the same size as Jupiter, but their orbits lie mere millions of kilometres from their stars, and take only days to complete. The intense solar radiation they endure is stripping them of their atmospheres, and heating them to temperatures of over 1,800°C.

Searching for extra-solar planets

The planets were identified by the so called SuperWasp survey (it stands for Wide Angle Search for Planets), a relatively low budget setup involving several cameras mounted on a telescope in South Africa and on another in the Canary Islands. The cameras combine to provide scientists with a field of view some 2,000 times that of a conventional telescope.

The cameras repeatedly scan the skies looking for stars that change in brightness. This often indicates that another body is orbiting the star, passing in front of the star and reducing the amount of light that reaches Earth.

This transiting, as it is known, is very rare, but because SuperWasp scans such a huge number of stars, the odds of finding transiting planets is vastly increased.

Once a candidate system has been identified, the team works with colleagues in France and Switzerland on the Sophie spectrograph at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence to check any stars flagged as potentially harbouring planets.

The gravity of a companion planet perturbs the orbit of a star, ever so slightly, making it appear to wobble back and forth. It is this motion that Sophie can identify, confirming the presence of a planet.

Once the planet's existence has been confirmed, the team can book time on one of the great space observatories - Hubble or Spitzer, to take a closer look. Studying the planets in infrared, for instance, tells astronomers a lot about the kind of weather that might be expected on the newly discovered worlds.

Professor Andrew Collier Cameron told the BBC: "All the theoretical models tell us that these planets should have dense cloud decks made essentially of 'rock snowflakes'; the sorts of chemicals which condense to form clouds at these high temperatures are things that we normally think of on Earth as minerals - olivine, forsterite, all the magnesium silicates."

The SuperWasp project is set to run for another three years. The team, based at St Andrews University, hopes to identify all the transiting events within the range of the scopes. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.