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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 12:02 GMT
Astronomer discovers new planets
New planets
Lights changes on neighbouring stars revealed the new planets
Three new planets have been discovered by a team of astronomers, including a researcher from St Andrews University.

Powerful cameras in South Africa and the Canary islands found the planets, thought to be the size of Jupiter.

They have been named WASP-3, WASP-4 and WASP-5. The astronomy team which made the find said the planets were in our galaxy but not orbiting the Sun.

Prof Andrew Collier Cameron, from the university, estimated the sizes, based on light changes of neighbouring stars.

The planets are so close to the stars they orbit that their 'year' lasts less than two days.

Prof Collier Cameron said: "These are among the shortest orbital periods yet discovered.

The surface temperatures of the planets will be more than 2,000C
Prof Andrew Collier Cameron

"Being so close to their stars the surface temperatures of the planets will be more than 2,000C, so it is unlikely that life as we know it could survive there."

The new planets have been named after the team which discovered them, the Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP).

About 200 planets, which orbit other stars rather than the sun, have so far been found by astronomers.

The WASP team are the only ones to find new planets in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

St Andrews has teamed up with two other universities to fund the planet hunting programme.

Dr Coel Hellier, from Keele University, said: "We can use these planets to study how solar systems form.

"These two are now the brightest transiting planets in the southern hemisphere."

SEE ALSO
Reaching for the stars and planets
31 Oct 07 |  Northern Ireland
New 'super-Earth' found in space
25 Apr 07 |  Science/Nature
Planets have scientists buzzing
26 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Scientists seek unknown planets
16 Apr 04 |  Northern Ireland

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