Home > Astronomy, Exoplanets, General Astronomy > Astronomers Discover Three Super-Earths Orbiting Nearby Star

Astronomers Discover Three Super-Earths Orbiting Nearby Star


Artist’s impression. Art by Karen Teramura & BJ Fulton, UH IfA.

Artist’s impression. Art by Karen Teramura & BJ Fulton, UH IfA.

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system orbiting a star only 54 light-years away with the Automated Planet Finder (APF) at Lick Observatory and ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Arizona.

The team discovered the planets by detecting a wobble of the star HD 7924, a result of the gravitational pull of the planets orbiting around it. All three planets orbit the star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the sun, completing their orbits in just 5, 15, and 24 days.

The APF facility at Lick Observatory offers a way for astronomers to speed up the exoplanet search. The fully-robotic telescope searches for planets every clear night of the year, so planets and their orbits can be discovered and traced quickly.

“The APF is great for two reasons. One, it has the superb Levy spectrometer. Two, it is a modern computer controlled telescope so we can automate it. This combination means that we can observe stars night and night out to look for the wobble,” said Bradford Holden, an Associate Research Astronomer for UC Observatories (UCO) who helped to make the telescope robotic.

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