Posted on October 25, 2011

Qatar Exoplanet Survey team has announced the discovery of a new solar system which consists of at least 2 planets named Qatar-2 b and 2c.

This "hot Jupiter," will be included on the growing list of alien planets orbiting distant stars. The discovery demonstrates the power of science to cross political boundaries and increase ties between nations.

Dr. Khalid Al Subai

The discovery has been announced by Qatar astronomer Dr. Khalid Al Subai, leader of the research team and a research director at Qatar Foundation. The international team members are from Harvard University, St. Andrews University, and Leicester University.

Earlier last year, the same survey team made its first discovery of an alien world, the planet Qatar -1b. "We are proud as scientists from different nations to lead the search for planets around other stars. The discovery of Qatar-2b and 2c is a great achievement - one that further demonstrates Qatar’s commitment to becoming a leader in innovative science and research”, Dr. Al Subai commented.

To find the new world, Qatar's wide-angle cameras (located in New Mexico) took images of the sky every clear night beginning in early 2009. The photographs then were transmitted to Qatar for analysis. That analysis narrowed the field to a few hundred candidate stars.

The resulting data confirmed the existence of a planet now called Qatar-2b, orbiting an orange Type K star 500 light-years away. Qatar-2b is a gas giant 20 percent larger than Jupiter in diameter and 2.5 more massive. It belongs to the "hot Jupiter" family because it orbits 3.5 million kilometer from its star - only six stellar radii away. The planet roasts at a temperature of around 1,100 degrees Centigrade.

Qatar-2b circles its star once every 1.3 days, meaning that its "year" is just 32 hours long. It's expected to be tidally locked with the star, so one side of the planet always faces the star. As a result, the planet spins on its axis once every 32 hours - three times slower than Jupiter, which rotates once in 10 hours.

However, Qatar-2c circles its star orbit in about one earthly year.