Robotically discovering Earth’s nearest neighbors: 54 light-years away

Astronomers using a robotically powered observatory system have discovered three “super-Earths”. For several years, astronomical facilities always use human observation to detect new planets, or stars or even new discoveries in the galaxy. However, astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Hawaiiʻi at Mānoa, the University of California Observatories and Tennessee State University are different from any other astronomers worldwide in such a way that they are using APF (Automated Planet Finder) and Keck Observatory. This facility is used to discover and watch for the night sky robotically instead of human observation.

This then makes observation and discovery as a speedy process as planet can be discovered every night using the computer. In a way, the computer-powered robot replaces the astronomers at night. Not only does it allow a speedy process but also it is also more convenient for astronomers as they can get to have enough sleep at night.

According to the discovery, 3 new “super-Earths” orbiting HD 7924 have been found. They seem to be larger in mass than Earth; approximately about seven to eight times the mass of the Earth. However, the extra solar planets are still smaller compared to Neptune. Another data that they noted is the fact that its’ orbit are closer to their stars than how close Earth is to the Sun.

All of the extrasolar planets discovered are always somehow far away from our own planet, about 100 light-years away. The Doppler technology and other known methods of star mapping and planet searching have always been the way for the past years. Currently, the use of automation as a technology in astronomy has given many discoveries and benefits in a short span of time.

The paper regarding this discovery will then be published in the future as “Three super-Earths orbiting HD 7924” in the renowned Astrophysical Journal. The HD 7924 system has been informally named by the researchers as the “Levy Planetary System” as an acknowledgement to the support of Gloria and Ken Levy to fund the research.




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