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Astronomers at University of Hertfordshire discover planet

PUBLISHED: 12:38 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 22 January 2019

An artists impression of the new planet, Barnard Star b (IEEC/Science-Wave - Guillem Ramisa)

An artists impression of the new planet, Barnard Star b (IEEC/Science-Wave - Guillem Ramisa)

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Astronomers at UoH have made further advances in space exploration with the confirmation of a new planet

Astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire (UH) have made further advances in space exploration with the confirmation of a new planet. Named Barnard’s star b, it is a frozen ‘super Earth’ three times the size of our planet and orbits Barnard’s star, the second closest star system to our own and the fastest in the night sky.

Confirmation of the planet’s existence has taken more than 20 years – it was first detected in 1997 at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and since then an international collaboration including astronomers studying the Doppler effect at UH have been monitoring its impact on the light of Barnard’s star.

The star, discovered in 1916, has long captured the attention of astronomers, science fiction writers, filmmakers and game developers as a promising location for an exoplanet that could possibly be colonised.

In a seperate breakthrough, the university has unveiled its new £2m lidar facility, the most powerful laser instrument of its kind in Europe – for a few nanoseconds it can generate more power than a nuclear power station, firing a beam 50km-plus into the sky. The facility will help researchers understand and monitor the impact of atmospheric pollution on climate change, air quality, human health and crop production.

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