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Space Science

32 Exoplanets Discovered By Chilean Telescope 146

Posted by timothy
from the that's-just-for-starters dept.
the4thdimension writes "An article on CNN notes that 32 exoplanets have been discovered using a new Chilean telescope. The telescope is capable of detecting movements of 2.1mph (comparable to a slow walking pace). These 32 new planets give the telescope a total of 75 planets it has discovered, out of the 400 discovered using all methods employed by astronomers. This places the HARPS system as the world's foremost exoplanet hunter."
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32 Exoplanets Discovered By Chilean Telescope

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:24PM (#29800361)

    Well, the "new Chilenean telescope" the summary is referring to is actually the 3.6m telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile, which started operation in 1976...

    and here is the link to the ESO Press Release [eso.org]

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:27PM (#29800407) Homepage Journal

    Um, just how long is the trip to the nearest habitable exoplanet again? If it's less than my remaining life expectancy, get me a ticket.

    While that's out of the question, an unmanned nuke-powered probe could possibly survey such a system in one life-time if sufficiently funded.
         

  • ESO Press Release (Score:3, Informative)

    by mene (1660015) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:36PM (#29800511)
    More details can be found in the Press Release [eso.org] of the European Southern Observatory. They have been using a new instrument called HARPS on the "old" ESO 3.6m telescope, which has ben around since 1976.
  • Re:ESO Press Release (Score:2, Informative)

    by kamakiri (944887) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:39PM (#29800539)

    More details can be found in the Press Release [eso.org] of the European Southern Observatory. They have been using a new instrument called HARPS on the "old" ESO 3.6m telescope, which has ben around since 1976.

    And HARPS [wikipedia.org] has been operational since 2003.

  • !Chilean (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomcircuit (938963) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:41PM (#29800557) Homepage

    This is a telescope operating in Chile, it is only partially funded by the Chileans.

    Funded by

    • Swiss National Science Foundation
    • Federal Office for Education and Research
    • La Région Provence, Alpes et Côte d'Azur
    • Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers INSU
    • European Space Organization
  • Also news from (Score:4, Informative)

    by physburn (1095481) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:49PM (#29800689) Homepage Journal
    You can also find the story on Physorg News [physorg.com] and Space.com. The discoveries where not all at once BTW, the HARPS telescopes been running since 2004, and found the 32 planets over that period, using just 100 nights observing time per year.

    ---

    Extra Solar Planets [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Monday October 19, 2009 @05:57PM (#29800791)

    Right now the ratio between stars to planets in the milky way is about 1 billion to 1.

    That's a ridiculous statistic. By that measure, the ratio between Diet Coke drinkers and humans is 3.5 billion to 1, because my wife and I are the only people in my group of friends who drink the stuff, and there are 7 billion people on the planet.

    And yet somehow the Coca Cola company keeps making it, just for us...

    A better statistic is the ratio of the number of planets discovered and the NUMBER OF STARS SEARCHED FOR PLANETS. As of 2003, this fraction was at least 10%, and given observational limits may prove to be as high as 100% -- it could well be that ALL sunlike stars have planets.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0306524 [arxiv.org]

  • Re:Ridiculous claim (Score:5, Informative)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:05PM (#29800893)

    They're not measuring the side-to-side motion of the stars, that's impossible^H^H^H^Hvery difficult to measure, as your trig suggests.

    They're measuring the Doppler shift of features in the star's optical spectrum, as it moves toward us and away. It's the world's most impressive police radar gun.

  • Errata (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:06PM (#29800911)

    "An article on CNN describes that 32 exoplanets have been discovered using a new Chilean telescope. The telescope is capable of detecting movement 2.1mph (comparable to a slow walking pace)."

    • HARPS is a spectrograph [wikipedia.org], not a telescope.
    • It's not Chilean, it's a European instrument mounted on a European telescope that are currently installed in a Chilean observatory.
    • The HARPS can detect Doppler shifts as small as 1 m/s. That's 3.6 km/hr. Why CNN would round that to 3.5 km/hr beats me--but then to convert that value to 2.1mph instead of 2.2mph, is beyond me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @06:07PM (#29800917)

    Not "Space Organization." It's not directly related to the European Space Agency.

  • by Random Walk (252043) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @03:59AM (#29804977)
    It's the instrumentation that really counts. There are lots of old telescopes which just gather dust, because they have no competitive instruments attached to their focal plane. On the other hand, the success of the HARPS spectrograph clearly shows that even with old telescopes one can do great science.
  • Re:3.5km/h (Score:3, Informative)

    by ATMD (986401) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:33AM (#29805381) Journal

    I was reading the summary thinking "surely a telescope's sensitivity should be measured in arcseconds, and the minimum detectable speed should be in arcseconds-per-second rather than miles per hour." Of course they were talking about bodies moving toward and away from us, rather than across our field of vision, so it's a Doppler effect measurement rather than looking at a picture and saying, "hey! That bit moved!"

    I've just had my big mug of coffee, but obviously it hasn't reached my brain yet :)

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