The Montsec Astronomical Observatory discovers its first exoplanet
The new exoplanet, named XO-6b, is a hot Jupiter orbiting a rapidly rotating star

The three XO telescopes installed in the United States, the Canary Islands and the Montsec made the discovery

The Montsec Astronomical Observatory (OAdM) of the Institute of Spatial Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) has participated for the first time in the discovery of an exoplanet, a planet that orbits around a star different from the Sun and therefore outside the Solar System. This is the XO-6b. In 2012, the Hubble Space Telescope Institute included OAdM in the XO project that aims to discover giant exoplanets that revolve around bright stars. The discovery has been published in Astronomical Journal.

“XO instruments at Utah, in the United States, the Teide Observatory in the Canary Islands and the Montsec observatory in Catalonia act in a coordinated way as if it were a single telescope,” said Kike Herero, astronomer at IEEC.

“OAdM has not only participated in the discovery of the XO-6b with the XO instrument,” says Herrero, “but our Joan Oró telescope has also participated in the characterization of the new exoplanet.”

Artistic illustration of an exoplanets that orbits very close to its star
Credits: NASA, ESA and G.Bacon (STScl)

A hot Jupiter

XO-6b is a hot Jupiter. That means that it is a very large planet that doubles the mass of Jupiter as well as its size; And hot because it is very close to its star. “It’s also a little-known system because the exoplanet takes four days to complete its orbit around the star, while the star rotates on itself in just two days, it’s called a fast rotator.”

The study of this system will allow us to know more about the dynamics and interactions of the planet and its star. Herrero has also explained that the atmosphere of XO-6b could be very interesting, as it seems warmer and more swollen than predicted models in this type of exoplanet.

About OAdM

The Montsec Astronomical Observatory (OAdM) is a scientific infrastructure managed by the Institute of Spatial Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) under an agreement with the General Directorate of Research of the Generalitat of Catalonia. It consists of four facilities dedicated to astronomy research and two measurement stations for meteorological and environmental quality studies.


XO instrument at OAdM

The main objective of OAdM is to provide tools to carry out leading astronomical research and provide the support needed to exploit the available facilities. Several institutes and universities have actively contributed with scientific and technical supervision, as well as providing the necessary resources for the development of the project: the Institute of Spatial Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), the University of Barcelona (UB), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia UPC), the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and the Joan Oró Foundation (FJO).
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Generalitat de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasCentres de Recerca de Catalunya