Ground based telescopes suffer from a disadvantage and this is the interference caused due to the vagaries of atmosphere. Hence space telescopes give a better and more detailed picture of the cosmos. However for the first time scientists have been able to study a new exo-planet which is twice the size of Earth using ground based telescope. The new planet has been named 55 Cancri e. The planet was seen as it passed across a star which was much akin to our own star the Sun. It is for the first time that astronomers have been able to study and identify a planet with a ground based telescope.
The ‘Super Earth’ as it was christened was first seen in 2004 by a space based telescope and scientists had calculated the diameter of the planet which was 16,000 miles making it twice the size of Earth and also eight times as massive. This placed the planet in a category of planets which is much bigger than our Earth but smaller than gas giants such as Uranus, Neptune. The planet may be uninhabitable as of now but considering its size and position around its star could end up supporting life.
Nordic telescope have the ability to detect the stars by using the transit method. This will enable other ground based telescopes to complete crucial follow-up study of similar exoplanets that space-based systems have initially identified. More than 2,000 exoplanets have been discovered and astronomers want to expand that figure significantly. The space based telescopes will be working overtime and discovering more and more new planets which will be then studied minutely and researched additionally by ground based telescopes.
As mentioned, ground telescopes use transit method to detect exoplanets. The 55 Cancri e dims the light from its host planet by around 0.05 percent for less than two hours. Hence highly sensitive equipments are needed to discern this trivial change. Space based telescope gives the astronomers much clearer view because there is no atmosphere to blur these images. However recent advances have enabled ground based telescopes to get around the blurring effect and sharpen the images.