PEST has got to 50…

50 planet discoveries, that is.  The 50th, TOI-564b was announced on arxiv today, a nice Xmas present.

A hot Jupiter in a grazing orbit, this discovery makes a nod to the past, and points to the future. The past, because the first exoplanet found, in 1995, was a hot Jupiter.  The future because this one was found by TESS, which is likely to dominate discoveries for years to come.

As is customary, milestones are occasions for reflection.  Back in Oct 2010 PEST was just a plywood shell, and planet discovery was just a dream.

PEST being built, Oct 2010


Now, the list of PEST co-discoveries includes a diversity of worlds.  GJ 1252b is just 1.2 times the size of Earth and whizzes around its star twice a day, KELT-22Ab is more than 3 times the mass of Jupiter and is on a death spiral into its star.  LHS 1140b is one the top places to look for signs for life outside the solar system, and is so far the only habitable zone exoplanet co-discovered by an amateur.  OGLE-2013-BLG-0341 has two suns, and KELT-13b orbits in the opposite direction to the rotation of its star.

The TRAPPIST-1 planets – NOT PEST discoveries!
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech – HDR tune by Universal-Sci

To get here has taken huge and sustained effort.  Let’s go by the numbers:

  • 9 years
  • 753 targets observed
  • 174,000 images
  • 527GB of data
  • ~5000 lines of code (the current version of the PEST processing pipeline)
  • About 1,300 planets have been discovered from the ground.  PEST had a part in 44, or 3.4%.
  • TESS has confirmed 37 planets.  PEST had a part in 6, or 16%.


I am now going to enjoy my Christmas break with family.  Meanwhile, the observatory is running…

Merry Xmas to all!

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