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High-res camera finds new planets

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High-resolution cameras have helped a British and Irish team of astronomers to discover three new planets. The cameras captured the planets as they passed in front of their host star. From this image, the astronomers could capture the size, mass and make up of the planet.

The UK-led Super WASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) Programme uses wide angle lenses with iKon L large area CCD cameras (DW436N-BV), each housing a vacuum-sealed, TE cooled E2V 42-40 sensor with 2,000 x 2,000 pixels, supplied by Andor Technology in Belfast.

Don Pollacco, who leads the Super WASP team at QUB, said: ‘The system we have is extremely powerful – we are very happy with our cameras, which enable us to find candidate planets. We are the only team to have found transiting planets in the Northern and Southern hemispheres; for the first time we have both Super WASP cameras running, giving complete coverage of the whole sky.'

The three new planets are the size of Jupiter and are orbiting their stars very closely, which means that their surface temperatures will be more than 2000ºC. The new findings are an encouraging first step in the search to find more Earth-like planets.

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