19 October 2009
For immediate release
32 New Exoplanets FoundToday, at an international ESO/CAUP exoplanet conference in Porto, the team who built the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, better known as HARPS, the spectrograph for ESO's 3.6-metre telescope, reports on the incredible discovery of some 32 new exoplanets, cementing HARPS's position as the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter. This result also increases the n umber of known low-mass planets by an impressive 30%. Over the past five years HARPS has spotted more than 75 of the roughly 400 or so exoplanets now known."HARPS is a unique, extremely high precision instrument that is ideal for discovering alien worlds," says Stéphane Udry, who made the announcement. “We have now completed our initial five-year programme, which has succeeded well beyond our expectations.”
The latest batch of exoplanets announced today comprises no less than 32 new discoveries. Including these new results, data from HARPS have led to the discovery of more than 75 exoplanets in 30 different planetary systems. In particular, thanks to its amazing precision, the search for small planets, those with a mass of a few times that of the Earth — known as super-Earths and Neptune-like planets — has been given a dramatic boost. HARPS has facilitated the discovery of 24 of the 28 planets known with masses below 20 Earth masses . As with the previously detected super-Earths, most of the new low-mass candidates reside in multi-planet systems, with up to five planets per system.
Read more of the ESO Science News release at <http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/press-rel/pr-2009/pr-39-09.html>.