Ten new planets discovered

Ten new planets discovered London: An international team, including scientists from the University of Oxford, has discovered 10 new planets.

Amongst them is one orbiting a star perhaps only a few tens of million years old, twin Neptune-sized planets, and a rare Saturn-like world, a release by the University of Oxford said today.

The planets were detected using the CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Transits) space telescope, operated by the French space agency CNES. It discovers planets outside our solar system , exoplanets, when they 'transit', that is pass in front of their stars.

Out of the ten new exoplanets (CoRoT-16b through to 24b and c) seven are hot Jupiters some of which are unusually dense and/or on unusually elongated orbits, and one is in orbit around an unusually young star.

The announcement also includes a planet slightly smaller than Saturn, and two Neptune-sized planets orbiting the same star.

Dr Suzanne Aigrain of Oxford University's Department of Physics, lead UK scientist for CoRoT, said: "CoRoT-18b is special because its star might be quite young. Finding planets around young stars is particularly interesting because planets evolve very fast initially, before settling into a much steadier pattern of evolution".

She added: "If we want to understand the conditions in which planets form, we need to catch them within the first few hundred million years.

"After that, the memory of the initial conditions is essentially lost. In the case of CoRoT-18, different ways of determining the age give different results, but it's possible that the star might be only a few tens of millions of years old.

If this is confirmed, then we could learn a lot about the formation and early evolution of hot gas giant planets by comparing the size of CoRoT-18b to the predictions of theoretical models."