Astronomer finds evidence for record-breaking nine planet system


A study by Mikko Tuomi, an astronomer at the University of Hertfordshire, has revealed that the planetary system around the star named HD 10180 may have more planets in its orbits than our own Solar system.  Dr Tuomi carried out his analysis as part of the EU research network RoPACS, being led in Hertfordshire.

Originally reported to be orbited by seven planets in 2010, re-analysed data from the HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) now indicates that the star has nine planets. This discovery is significant as most planetary systems discovered so far have far fewer planets. Located 130 light years away, the star is not within reach of foreseeable human space travel, but in astronomical distances, it is still considered to be in the Solar neighbourhood.

The study, accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics , verifies the existence of the previously announced seven planets and shows that there are likely to be two additional planets orbiting the star. The two newly detected signals are probably those of planets classified as hot super-Earths with orbital periods around the star of 10 and 68 days.

These new planets are closer to the star’s surface than the Earth is to the Sun which makes them too hot to be able to maintain water on their surfaces in its liquid form. They have masses of 1.9 and 5.1 times that of our planet Earth which suggests that they are solid rocky bodies and make them among the smallest planets outside of our Solar system detected to date.

Future observations are required to verify the existence of these planet candidates and to establish the HD 10180 star system as the richest planetary system known to humankind - certainly a star worth keeping our telescopes on into the future.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Julie Cooper, University of Hertfordshire Press Office on 01707 284095, Email: j.cooper5@herts.ac.uk

Notes to Editor

About the University of Hertfordshire

The University is the UK’s leading business-facing university and an exemplar in the sector.  It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel.  The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,300 staff and a turnover of almost £231 million.

With a student community of over 27,700 including more than 2,900 international students from over eighty-five different countries, the University has a global network of over 170,000 alumni.  

The University of Hertfordshire was awarded ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010’ by the Times Higher Education (THE) and ranks in the top 4% of all universities in the world according to the recent THE, World University Rankings.

For more information, please visit www.herts.ac.uk

Did you know….? 10% of all known planets were discovered by University of Hertfordshire astronomers – We are pioneering!

Find out more at  go.herts.ac.uk/didyouknow

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• The University of Hertfordshire is the UK’s leading business-facing University and an exemplar in the sector. It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel. • The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,425 staff and a turnover of more than £234 million. With a student community of over 25,100 including more than 2,900 international students from over 120 different countries, the University has a global network of over 175,000 alumni. For more information, please visit www.herts.ac.uk • The University of Hertfordshire was awarded the Times Higher Education ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010’.