UCSB Helps Discover New Planet
An international team of 60 scientists, including several from the Santa Barbara area, discovered a new planet last week. Researchers identified CoRoT-9b in the Serpens Cauda star system, which is 1,500 light-years from Earth, by calculating the amount of light the planet blocked when it orbited between Earth and its solar system’s star. The astronomers credited with discovery include UCSB postdoctoral fellow Avi Shporer, who works with the UCSB-affiliated, Goleta-based Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT). The planet is mostly made of hydrogen and helium, but may contain up to 20 Earth masses of heavier elements including rock and water under high pressure, making it similar to Jupiter and Saturn.