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SuperWASP Finds a Strongly-Irradiated Transiting Gas-Giant Exoplanet

ING web news release
8th November, 2007

The WASP and SOPHIE collaboration has announced the discovery of WASP-3b, one of the hottest exoplanets discovered so far. At a temperature of more than 1700 degrees Celsius WASP-3b has the potential to place stringent constraints on exoplanet atmospheric models.

The first transits of WASP-3b were detected by the SuperWASP cameras in the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma. The transits were then confirmed by the IAC80 telescope in Izaña Observatory, Tenerife, as part of the Canarian Observatories' International Time Programme for 2007, and by the University of Keele 60-cm telescope. The discovery confirmation, using the radial velocity method, came from data obtained with the SOPHIE spectrograph on the Observatoire de Haute-Provence's 1.93m telescope.

Observations made with the adaptive-optics system NAOMI+INGRID on the William Herschel Telescope were used to exclude the possibility of a nearby eclipsing-binary system being the cause of the transits. WASP-3, the host star, lies at approximately 220 parsecs or 720 light years and no companion stars were found to lie within 45 astronomical units of WASP-3.

WASP-3b is one of hottest extrasolar planets ever detected. Credit: artist impression by IAC's multimedia service.

WASP-3b has a mass of 1.6-1.8 Jupiter masses and it transists its host star every 1.8 days, one of the shortest orbital periods yet discovered. The finding of Jupiter-mass planets around other stars supports the idea that Earth-sized planets can also form and be detected as astronomers' technology improves.

The Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP) is the first team to detect planets in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere using the transit method, and it is also the most ambitious project in the world designed to discover large planets. WASP-3b is the third exoplanet discovered by WASP in the North. The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes is a member of the WASP consortium.

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Last modified: 22 December 2010