France planet-hunter makes first find

4th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - A French space probe designed to look for worlds orbiting other stars has made its first find, a "hot Jupiter" that zips closely around a sun some 1,500 light years away, the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) said on Thursday.

PARIS, May 3, 2007 (AFP) - A French space probe designed to look for worlds orbiting other stars has made its first find, a "hot Jupiter" that zips closely around a sun some 1,500 light years away, the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) said on Thursday.

The planet-hunter, named Corot (pronounced "Coreau"), was launched last December 27.

The find, named Corot-Exo-1b, is between 200,000 and 250,000 kilometers (125,000 and 155,000 miles) in diameter and has a mass about 1.3 times that of Jupiter, the largest planet of our Solar System, CNES said in a news release.

Its size and its proximity to the star, which it orbits in just one and a half days, puts it into category of a "hot Jupiter," it said.

Such planets are unlikely to harbour any life as we know it, as they are not rocky worlds with mild temperatures, but scorched giants made of gas.

Corot, a 170-million-euro (231-million-dollar) project that is also funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), Austria, Belgian, Brazil and Germany, carries a 30-centimetre (12-inch) telescope and two cameras.

As of Thursday, 232 so-called exoplanets have been spotted, according to the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia (http://exoplanet.eu/).

Extrasolar worlds were first spotted in 1995. Virtually all of the discoveries have been made indirectly, mainly by a "wobble" in light, seen from Earth, when the planet swings around its star. The change in light signature can yield many clues about the planet's size and orbit.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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