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Wednesday, May 9

Astronomers map an extrasolar planet

I'm trying something new here . . . a service called Clipmarks which allows me to select bits of newsworthy pages and add them to the blog. That means you get a quick preview of a news article and if you are interested you can link through to the original article, blog or website. Hopefully that will make it easy for me to post interesting articles, let's see whether it works ok . . . .

Below is a selection of an article on Bad Astronomy blog reporting that astronomers have managed to 'map' the surface of an extrasolar planet. The team at the Havard-Smithsonian Centre of Astrophysics have the full details in this press release.

Using the Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to make, for the very first time, a (very crude) map of the super-Jupiter orbiting the star HD 189733, about 60 light years away. The planet was discovered in 2005 (note this is not the new "Earthlike" planet found recently, this is a big gas giant like Jupiter) and is one of a handful that passes directly in front of its star as seen by us on Earth. In other words, it transits the star, making a little eclipse once per orbit.

map of the planet HD189733b
artist's conception of the planet HD189733b

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  1. Well the clip thing seems to work ok on the blog and the blog feed on the front page of the main CAS website. Only remains to see how it works on the email distribution. Let me know if you have any problems.

  2. This one is even observable from Cumbria!