Automated Planet Finder Discovers Three New Planets

April 29, 2015

Hd7924_sm labels Artist’s impression of a view from the HD 7924 planetary system looking back toward our sun, which would be easily visible to the naked eye. Click photo to see locations of sun and newly discovered planets. Art by Karen Teramura & BJ Fulton, UH IfA.

The Automated Planet Finder (APF), a robotic telescope located at Lick Observatory, has discovered three new planets around a near-by star. These planets, or Super-Earths, have a mass seven to eight times that of Earth; while most planets discovered outside of our solar system have been the size of Neptune or larger, the APF purposefully targets smaller planets around nearby stars in efforts to find habitable planets.

The APF's unique automated function enables the telescope to take on graveyard shifts to provide assistance in the search of exo-planets; this unique design is slated to assist with a complete survey of nearby stars over the next few years.

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