Stargazers find new planet

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iol scitech jan 23 solar system AP The main bodies of the solar system, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Earth, from left in foreground, Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, from left in background.

London - A pair of amateur British stargazers have discovered a new planet – for only the third time in history.

Chris Holmes and Lee Threapleton spotted the new world during a project to find planets beyond our solar system publicised by Professor Brian Cox in his Stargazing Live series.

The pair will receive the honour of having the planet named after them, once scientists have confirmed its authenticity.

They made the discovery after spotting changes in light patterns in an image from Nasa’s Kepler space telescope. The unusual patterns suggested a planet appears to be orbiting a sun called SPH10066540, which lies between 600 and 3,000 light years away.

“Threapleton Holmes B”, as the planet will be known, is thought to be gaseous, and around the size of Neptune.

The image had been posted online at Planethunters.org, an Oxford University project that asks the public to sift through time-lapsed data from Nasa in the hope of new discoveries.

Mr Holmes, of Peterborough, said: “I’ve never even had a telescope. I’ve had a passing interest in where things are in the sky, but never had any more knowledge about it than that.

“Being the one to find something is a very exciting position.”

But the other amateur stargazer, Mr Threapleton, may not even know he is set to have a planet named after him, as the project’s team have not yet been able to reach him.

Dr Chris Lintott, from Oxford University, said: “The candidate planet is unlikely to have life because it is too hot. It is too close to its star and the sheer heat makes life unlikely.”

It is believed to be only the third time British amateurs have found a new planet. The first was William Herschel, who discovered Uranus in 1781. - Daily Mail

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Meme-Man, wrote

IOL Comments
01:24pm on 24 January 2012
IOL Comments

"Guess who" - the education system is generally pretty far behind discoveries. Also - the education system only skims over cosmology; there is a big difference in detecting planets and detecting exo-planets. "Planet Niburu" - if you really believe what you say, you have been conned. Plot where you think this mythical 'planet' currently is (just a distance from the sun will do), let us know when you think it''ll be here ("in the next 2 years"), then do the arithmetic - to establish the relative velocity it must have. Apply Newton's laws of motion and you'll uncover why and how Niburu simply cannot exist (on a periodic orbit). If it did, it would either have to now be so close it would be a naked eye body and we'd all be watching it inbound, or i would HAVE to be traveling so fast that it would have escape velocity out of the solar system and be a one-way trip (not an orbital) body.

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Anonymous, wrote

IOL Comments
01:20pm on 24 January 2012
IOL Comments

People are so quick to shout conspiracy theories without looking at all the facts first. Planet "Nibiru" Darkstar Planet X, whatever you want to call it, is on it's way. It's been clearly blocked out (rather badly) by Google Sky, Wiki Sky and Microsoft WWT. Have a look yourself! NASA is hiding a lot of information from us, misinforming the public and dismiss threats like this as hoaxes and people are dumb enough to believe only what they've been told without investigating themselves. If you knew for sure that life as we know it would change completely in the next year, would you still go to work everyday, would you take that 2year loan, would you allow the government to still control you as they do now? The economies and social structures would collapse if people knew the REAL truth, but it's not in the interest of the world leaders at this time,so of course they would keep us in the dark. What can save you? Love and light!

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Anonymous, wrote

IOL Comments
01:01pm on 24 January 2012
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you dont need a telescope to see something orbiting URanus

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JFT, wrote

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12:14pm on 24 January 2012
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@Yoda, love your work...

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Graham F, wrote

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11:13am on 24 January 2012
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Re Bobster - About 2 weeks an astronomer said that it is probable that every star or sun has 1 or more planets orbiting it.

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Yoda, wrote

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10:21am on 24 January 2012
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@guess who: actually it didn't. This planet is outside our solar system. And it it is only recently that Pluto has been downgraded. @Planet Nibiru: what are you smoking - sounds like good Sh**

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JFT, wrote

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10:16am on 24 January 2012
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@PLANET NIBIRU, it is a big conspiracy. You are absoulutely right. 77% of the worlds population will die in the next two years.

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Guess who, wrote

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10:01am on 24 January 2012
IOL Comments

So our education system lied to us by saying we only have nine planet. I still dont beleieve the earth is circulating not the sun.

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PLANET NIBIRU, wrote

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09:46am on 24 January 2012
IOL Comments

There is no more need to waste time searching for planets outside our solar system. Let us all look for PLANET NIBIRU inside our solar system.Has Nibiru crossed the obit of Jupiter? Is it being orbited by seven moons? Has the axis of the earth tilted by more than 9 degrees.Is one of Nibiru's moons on collision course with our moon[per chance]? Are we going to experience a total solar eclipse in mid September 2012? What are the chances of survival if the earth's axis tilts by about 90 degrees.Why is NASA QUIET ABOUT NIBIRU and her disasters? If planet NIBIRU is here in our solar system now,then surely more than 77% of the population will parish, before its final exit after 2014.What is the job of the Wits PLANETARIUM, and the SAAO.Surely they should be shut down for being good for nothing.USE-LE-SS!!

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Bobster, wrote

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09:27am on 24 January 2012
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Considering the number of exo-planets discovered to date it is becoming evident that planetary systems orbiting stars are a common occurrence in the universe. As detection technology improves in the future the count will probably outnumber the stars by far. However also considering the history of the evolution of our own earth and its place in our own solar system the odds at finding a like planet are most likely to be enormous.

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