One of the results that has just been released from the National Astronomy Meeting is that the SuperWASP exoplanet hunting project has discovered an incredible 10 new exoplanets. SuperWASP is an ingenious project which uses eight sensitive CCDs on eight wide field telescopes to monitor a huge number of stars in the night sky. It can record an incredible 100,000 stars in one image! What they are looking for is the tell-tale blink (more of a temporary and gradual dimming) of a star’s light which indicates a planet passing in front of the star.
This method of looking for the dimming of a star is known as the ‘transit method’ of exoplanet hunting. There have been around 270 exoplanets discovered so far and 45 of those found have been via the transit method. What’s even more impressive is that of those 45, 15 were detected by the SuperWASP instruments. The new planets that the robotic telescope has discovered range in masses of between half and just over eight Jupiter masses.
If you haven’t heard of the SuperWASP project or want to find out more then have a read of their pages here.
Above: The SuperWASP-South instrument array