Research Highlights

Qatar discovers its second exoplanet

Published online 31 May 2012

Mohammed Yahia


In December 2010, Qatari astronomers working with fellow star gazers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Italy discovered an exoplanet they dubbed Qatar-1b. Now the group has discovered a second planet, publishing their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

So far, some 770 exoplanets have been discovered. Researchers estimate there may be at least 160 billion planets rotating the over 100 billion stars in the Milky Way alone.

The Qatar Exoplanet Survey (QES) conducted a wide-angle survey of the sky using five cameras with large apertures based in New Mexico. The planet, which the researchers have designated Qatar-2b, is a 'hot Jupiter', a class of planets similar in size to Jupiter but in orbit much closer to their stars. Qatar-2b is nearly 2.5 times the size of Jupiter and circles a K dwarf star, which is slightly cooler than the Sun and of similar size, around 500 million light years away..

Qatar-2b rotates around its star in a short circular orbit in just 1.34 days. Radial velocity monitoring of the planet for 153 days suggests another planet rotates around Qatar-2 in an outer orbit. However, after continued observation since the paper was submitted for review in October 2011, the evidence supporting the presence of this second body is weakening, according to Khalid Al-Subai, an astronomer at the Qatar Foundation who heads the QES.

"We are planning to expand our survey observing station to Iran and Canary Island besides New Mexico. This will accelerate the discovery rate and we will double the number of cameras per site. The expansion of the project will be accompanied with training of new Qatari graduates to get their M.Sc. and Ph.D. in the field of astronomy," says Al-Subai.


  1. Bryan, M. et al. Qatar-2: A K dwarf orbited by a transiting hot Jupiter and a more massive companion in an outer orbit. The Astrophysical Journal (2012) doi:10.1088/0004-637X/750/1/84