Mexborough astronomer finds FOUR new planets

AN ASTRONOMER is over the moon after his recent discovery of four new planets was published in a prestigious journal.

Peter Jalowiczor (45) is an amateur astronomer and is Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society’s “exo-planet” expert, specialising in searching for planets outside the solar system.

The Millers fan is also a member of a leading scientific research group based at the University of California in Santa Cruz where he communicates with professional astronomers from a computer in his bedroom at Station Road in Masborough.

Peter discovered a new planet last Christmas and his work went on to confirm the existence of three other planets.

His findings have now been published in the Astrophysical Journal, a scientific publication which covers astronomy and astrophysics.

Peter said: “It is an honour and privilege to be listed in the journal and I hope that my work will inspire others.

“After the first planet was confirmed, waiting for this paper to be published has undoubtedly been frustrating, but at the same time it has been a source of great satisfaction.

“I am very proud of this achievement and of my home town.”

As of December 20, astronomers had announced the confirmed detection of 515 exoplanets. Most are giant planets thought to resemble Jupiter.

Peter uses a process called doppler spectroscopy to detect planets from his makeshift office at home.

He explained: “I look for faint changes in stars’ behaviours that can only be caused by a planet or planets orbiting about them.  

“Once I identify likely candidates, I send the details back to Santa Cruz.

Stars are incredibly far away and no telescope yet built can directly see their discs, let alone any planets going around them.

“Astronomers therefore have to devise other indirect techniques of detection.

“If a planet orbits a star it causes a tiny wobble in the star’s motion and this wobble reveals itself in the star’s light.

“Special software works out the properties about the planet’s orbit and precise measurements of the star taken over many years enable scientists to build up profiles of systems as planets are gradually revealed.”

Peter’s work has already been mentioned in a number of scientific papers but the Astrophysical Journal is official recognition in the professional science world.

He said: “The first exo-planet was catalogued in 1995 and the number is continually increasing.  

“Many are now part of exotic multi-planet systems and astronomers are coming ever closer to discovering a planet which resembles our own earth.”

For more information visit http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.4068—click on the .pdf file for the full paper.

Related topics: