London: An international team, including
scientists from the Oxford University, has discovered seven
diverse new planets, from "shrunken-Saturns" to "bloated hot
Jupiters", as well as a rare brown dwarf with 60 times the
mass of Jupiter.
The CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Transits) space
telescope is operated by the French space agency CNES.
It discovers planets outside our solar system exoplanets when they "transit", that is pass in front of
Once CoRoT detects a transit, additional observations
are made from the ground, using a number of telescopes all
over the world.
Although astronomers cannot see the planets directly,
they use the space- and ground-based data to measure the
sizes, masses, and orbits of these new planets precisely.
This is why, among all known exoplanets, those with
transits yield the most complete information about planet
formation and evolution.
"Each of these planets is interesting in its own
right, but what is really fascinating is how diverse they
are", said co-investigator Dr Suzanne Aigrain from Oxford
University`s Department of Physics.
"Planets are intrinsically complex objects, and we
have much to learn about them yet," researcher at the
Laboratoire d`Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) and head of the
CoRoT exoplanet program Magali Deleuil said
"Every discovery of an extrasolar planetary system is
a new piece in the puzzle of how these systems do form and
evolve. The more systems we uncover, the better we can hope to
understand the processes at play," Deleuil said.
CoRoT-8b is the smallest in this discovered batch. At
about 70 per cent of the size and mass of Saturn, CoRoT-8b is
moderately small among the previously known transiting
exoplanets. Its internal structure should be similar to that
of ice giants, like Uranus and Neptune, in the Solar System.
It is the smallest planet discovered by the CoRoT
team so far after CoRoT-7b, the first transiting Super-Earth.
CoRoT-10b is the eccentric giant. The orbit of
CoRoT-10b is so elongated that the planet passes both very
close to and very far away from its star. The amount of
radiation it receives from the star varies tenfold in
intensity, and scientists estimate that its surface
temperature may increase from 250 to 600 degree Celsius, all
in the space of 13 Earth-days (the length of the year on