Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s HARPS telescope in Chile have discovered more than 50 new exoplanets.
An exoplanet is a planet found outside of our solar system and scientists have discovered close to 500 of them so far. But this latest find is the biggest discovery to date. HARPS stands for High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, and it has found more than 150 of these exoplanets.
The latest planets include several rocky ones not much heavier than the Earth. One of them orbits the Sun-like star HD 85512 in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sail) and is about 3.6 times as massive as the Earth.
The scientists are very interested in this particular exoplanet because it is also at the edge of the “habitable zone” around the star – the zone where liquid water, and perhaps even life, could potentially exist.
Check out a video by the European Southern Observatory about HARPS, the world’s most powerful “exoplanet hunter”, and its latest finds.
Get resources for your classroom on space-related themes and the Junior Science Curriculum from ESERO – the European Space Education Resource Office Ireland.