Saturday, May 05, 2007

COROT detects Oscillations

COROT discovers its first Exoplanet and detects oscillations in a Sun-like star

COROT has detected its first seismic oscillations in the light curve of a sun-like star. The research team for spacecraft COROT revealed the first discoveries of this major European mission on 3rd of May.

The satellite has also found a very hot exoplanet and provisional estimates indicate it has a very large radius.

Based on the quality of this initial data, our knowledge of planets outside our own solar system, known as exoplanets, and of the interiors of stars should be vastly improved over the next three years.

The exoplanet, which has been named COROT-exo-1b, orbits around a yellow dwarf star similar to our Sun in about 1.5 days. It is situated roughly 1500 light years from us, in the direction of the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). The oscillating star is of a similar type and located in the same region of the sky, but much nearer to us.

The satellite has two main advantages over ground-based projects. Firstly, it can observe the same stars continuously, without interruption, for up 150 days (60 days so far). Secondly, its position above the Earth’s atmosphere enables it to measure the brightness variations of stars much more precisely.

COROT detects planets by looking for transits, small dips in the apparent brightness of a star caused by a planet passing in front of it. While its first planet is large, the quality of the data suggests COROT will be able to identify rocky planets only a few times larger than our own Earth.

COROT may also be able to observe variations in the amount of stellar light reflected towards us by planets as they go around their orbits, giving some indication of their atmospheric properties.
SciTech Press Release 3rd May 2007.

Labels: , , ,