Qatar-led team finds its first alien world

Doha–A Qatar-led international team has made its first find in its search for planets orbiting distant stars–a huge gas giant 20 percent larger than Jupiter that orbits a star 500 light years away.

The planet has been named Qatar-1b and its discovery is to be reported in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development said on Wednesday.

Working in collaboration with astronomers in Britain and the US, and using data collected by Qatar's wide-angle cameras in the US state of New Mexico, the team was able to identify the planet from the dip in light from the parent star as its orbit took it between the star and Earth.

The team had to use computers to sift through data from hundreds of thousands of stars before making their lucky find.

"The discovery of Qatar-1b is a great achievement –one that further demonstrates Qatar's commitment to becoming a leader in innovative science and research," said Dr Khalid al-Subai, leader of the Qatar exoplanet survey and a research director at the foundation.

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