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An introduction to exoplanets
An introduction to exoplanets

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2.2  WASP: Wide area search for planets

After HD 209458 b was discovered, the search was on for further transiting exoplanets. Over the next few years there were more discoveries, including OGLE-TR-56 b, the first exoplanet to be discovered via its transits in 2002. Astronomers quickly realised that dedicated telescopes could find many more of these fascinating planets, and so the SuperWASP survey was born.

In Week 4 you watched a video about the WASP survey and how it works. You will recall that the WASP cameras capture a wide area of sky in a single exposure, enabling the brightness of many stars to be monitored simultaneously. In 2006, the first two WASP discoveries, WASP-1 b and WASP-2 b, were announced. Both of these are Jupiter-sized planets orbiting close to their parent stars. Since then, WASP telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres have discovered around 200 planets, all of them giant planets orbiting fairly close to their stars.