astroengine writes "Only four days into the New Year and the first four exoplanets of 2012 have been spotted orbiting four distant stars. All four alien worlds are known as 'hot Jupiters' — large gas giant planets orbiting very close to their stars. Their orbits are aligned just right with the Earth so that when they pass in front of their parent stars, they slightly dim the starlight from view. The discovery was made by the The Hungarian-made Automated Telescope Network (HATNet) Project (maintained by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) consisting of six small (11cm diameter), wide-field automated telescopes based at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO), Cambridge, Mass. and The Submillimeter Array atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii."