Anglo-Australian Telescope Finds New Planets


Three planets have been found around distant stars  by scientists from the Anglo-Australian Observatory and nine institutions in the UK and USA, using a new high-precision system on the 4-m Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) near Coonabarabran, NSW. They are the first planets to be discovered from Australia. 

Forty-six other extrasolar planets have been found since 1995. None are believed to be capable of supporting life.

Most planet searches have been able to find only planets more massive than Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System. "As a result searches are picking up all the weird giant planets first," says team leader Dr Chris Tinney of the Anglo-Australian Observatory.

The new planets were found around nearby stars within 150 light-years of Earth. 

The smallest is a kind planet hunters call a `hot Jupiter'. It has a mass at least 84% that of Jupiter's but lies scorchingly close to its parent star, far closer than Mercury does to the Sun. Its `year' is a mere three Earth days.