Joined: Oct. 2005
|May 18, 2006 | 9:40 p.m. ET|
An army of planet hunters: A team of professional and amateur astronomers has detected a Jupiter-scale planet circling a sunlike star 600 light-years from Earth, using off-the-shelf equipment that's within the financial reach of thousands of stargazers.
The detection, made using a linked pair of 200mm telephoto camera lenses, adds to the list of more than 190 extrasolar planets. But even more importantly, the XO telescope project signals that legions of high-end hobbyists could well join the search for other worlds.
"The discovery suggests that a fleet of modest telescopes and the help of amateur astronomers can search for transiting extrasolar planets many times faster than we are now," the leader of the research team, Peter McCullough of the Space Telescope Science Institute, said in today's announcement of the find.