Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A new exoplanet from HAT

Last December four members of the RAS were lucky enough to spend four days at the MMT/Fred L. Whipple Observatory located on Mt. Hopkins south of Tucson talking to researchers and observers. One of the systems located at the "Ridge" area of the mountain was HAT, the "Hungarian-made Automated Telescope", a collection of small scopes there at Mt. Hopkins and in Hawaii. Gaspar was too busy working to talk to us, but we now know why. The collabration has discovered a huge exoplanet orbiting HD 147506, an eight-magnitude star 441 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. It's about an eight-Jupiter mass planet in an eccentric short 5.63 day orbit around a hot F8 star, and it's as dense as a terrestrial-style planet! It was discovered because from Earth, its orbit crosses the face of the star. The next transit is tomorrow morning (from here in North America).

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