Geneva observatory helps discover new planets

An international team of astronomers, including Swiss scientists, have discovered 11 new planets around other stars, including two previously unknown planetary systems.

This content was published on April 4, 2001 - 17:14

The University of Geneva's Observatory made the announcement on Wednesday along with its European counterpart, the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The finding brings the number of planetary systems known to mankind to six.

The planetary systems were spotted indirectly by high precision radial measurements of solar-type stars. This method allows the varied speeds of stars to be observed.

Using this method, scientists are able to calculate the number of planets, a star's period of revolution, distance between planetary bodies, and their minimum mass.

One of the instruments behind the discovery - also called a spectrometer - is the Coralie planet search programme, managed by Geneva Observatory astronomers, at La Silla in Chile. The other is Elodie in southern France, which is run by a team of scientists from Geneva and Marseilles.

The newly discovered extra-solar planets, known as exoplanets, reportedly have a mass up to 10 times more than the planet Jupiter. Each of them is said to accompany a star, with the exception of two which have two star each to themselves.

The latest findings bring the number of extra-solar exoplanets that have been identified to 63. However, ESO says the number of planets that have a mass of at least 17 Jupiter masses has now risen to 67.

swissinfo with agencies

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