ADVERTISEMENT

'The little telescope that could'

  • June 23, 2012 - 4:47 PM

'THE LITTLE TELESCOPE THAT COULD'

A small telescope, no bigger nor more powerful than a high-end digital camera, has helped researchers discover two new planets, both similar in makeup to the gas giant Jupiter. KELT-2Ab is near a very bright star, which will help researchers understand the atmosphere of the planet, said Thomas Beatty, an astronomer at Ohio State University. The second, KELT-1b, is about 30 times the mass of Jupiter -- so massive that it is being designated a brown dwarf -- "too heavy to be planets but not heavy enough to be stars," he said. It is so close to its star that a year for the planet is just 29 hours, he said. The researchers identified the planets using the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope, or KELT, near Sonoita, Ariz. While some telescopes cost billions of dollars, KELT cost less than $75,000. It is "sort of like the little telescope that could," Beatty said. NEW YORK TIMES

© 2014 Star Tribune