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Nearby Star May Have 9 Planets

April 10, 2012 Comments off

astrobio.net

Artist’s impression of a planetary system around the star HD 10180. The large crescent is the third world in the system (HD 10180d), which is comparable to the planet Neptune in mass. The two inner planets appear as silhouettes in transit across the bright disc of the star. The outer planets in the system appear in the background sky. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

HD 10180 is a star that’s nearly the Sun’s twin: it’s very close in mass, temperature, brightness, and even chemical content of our friendly neighborhood star. But in this case of stellar sibling rivalry, HD 10180 may have the upper hand: a new analysis of observations of the star indicate it may have nine planets!

In a new report accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, an astronomer re-analyzed data of the star taken with the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), an exquisitely high-precision camera mounted on a 3.6 meter telescope in Chile. HARPS has been observing HD 10180 for years; the star is a mere 130 light years away, making it bright and easy to study. The observations look to see if the star exhibits a periodic shift in its light: a Doppler shift as planets circle it, tugging it one way and another.

Six clear Doppler shift signals were found in the original analysis: six planets, five of which have masses ranging from 12 – 25 times that of the Earth (making them more like Neptune than our own comfortable planet), and a sixth that was bigger yet, 65 Read more…

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