CNES's CoRoT spacecraft has turned up 3 distant stars surprisingly similar to our own Sun. The discovery is the subject of an article this week in the prestigious American review Science.
CNES's space telescope has discovered a new object so exotic that astronomers aren't sure whether to call it a planet. Named CoRoT-Exo-3b, the oddity is about the size of Jupiter, only 20 times more massive.
Detailed information and the presentations are available on Paris Observatory web site
CoRoT has now been for more than 575 days orbiting around the Earth. The satellite, the instrument and the ground segment perform very well. Five observations have been already completed. The sixth and current observation which started on April 14th will end in September, after almost 150 days of fixed pointing. In autumn, the programme will continue with two shorter sessions of approximately 25 days each. The latest scientific results are shortly presented below both on the Exoplanet and Seismology programmes.
The CoRoT team annonced three new discoveries at the IAU (International Astronomical Union) Symposium 253 Boston (may 19-23, 2008) dedicated to planetary transits.
Besides the discovering of two new gas giants, the presentation of a new type of object immediately caused debates in the CoRoT team and between the 200 international astronomers present at the meeting. The estimated characteristics of this object (mass = 20 JupiterM, radius = 0,8 JupiterR), called CoRoT-exo-3b, place it between a brown dwarf and a planet denser than twice Platinum!
CoRoT is not out done on the side of finding small planets, it has picked up signals as small as 5 parts in ten thousand. If it is the transit, the planet's radius would be 1.7 times the radius of the Earth.
For the record: Since 510 days, the CoRoT spacecraft and the telescope are working very well. The mission is operated from the Centre Spatial de Toulouse by the joint work of the Mission Center and the Control Center teams. Orbit correction maneuvers have been realised in april to optimise the future observation fields. The sequence of these operations with the planned ones went perfectly and enabled to begin the observations of the 6th field of view on April 15th. It is the third Run of long duration observation; it will enable to collect 5 month non-stop simultaneous recording of 12000 stars.