Six New Planets and 700 More Candidates

Entertainment Editor
06.16.10 2 Comments

The CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Transits) telescope which orbits Earth under the control of the French Space Agency (CNES) has found six new exoplanets.  Meanwhile, NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope’s exoplanet candidate list has expanded to over 700:

Today should be a historic moment for the field of astronomy. With a single data release, the team behind NASA’s Kepler instrument has nearly doubled the number of extrasolar planets we’re aware of, including many that fall between the sizes of Earth and Neptune, a class of planets that was poorly represented in our existing collection. [Ars Technica]

Last January, Kepler’s 95 megapixel lens had found five new planets since its launch in March of 2009.  95 megapixels?  Can you even imagine the giant pictures of its grandkids it emails to people?

As for the six newest planets discovered by CoRoT (out of 15 total CoRoT finds), Physorg provides a good breakdown, which I’ll summarize in our customarily serious way:

  • CoRoT-8b — the smallest in this group at ~70% the size and mass of Saturn.  Still thinks it looks fat in turtleneck sweaters.
  • CoRoT-10b — Has a 13-day orbit so elongated that its surface temperature probably fluctuates about 350°C during one orbit.  Refuses to take its psychiatric medication because of the side effects.
  • CoRoT-11b — Orbits around a star with a fast rotation.  It’s hard to detect planets near quickly-rotating stars, so finding this one is a surprise.  Especially since it was hiding behind an elderberry bush.
  • CoRoT-12b, 13b, 14b — Three fat giants, each one more lumbering and stupid than the next.  Love the KFC Double Downs.
  • CoRoT-15b — Not a planet but rather a much harder to find brown dwarf.  Assume I made a Gary Coleman joke here and I’ll assume you called me a jerk in the comments and we’ll both move on.  Deal?

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