Rare System of Five Stars Discovered by Andor Cameras

Most successful ground-based telescope projects to find exoplanets are powered by Andor cameras

Belfast, UK – With the news that British astronomers from the SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) project have discovered a very rare system of five connected stars, Andor's pre-eminence in high-performance digital camera design and manufacture has been demonstrated once again.

Andor, an Oxford Instruments company, supplied 16 iKon-L CCD cameras for the SuperWASP telescopes in the Canary Islands and South Africa. This has proven to be one of the most successful exoplanet projects, finding more than a third of all confirmed transiting planetary systems. The new findings, a quintuplet star system 250 light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major is the first of its kind. It consists of two binary stars, one of which has a lone companion star. The other is a so-called contact binary, stars that orbit so closely they share an outer atmosphere. Presenting the findings at the UK National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, the SuperWASP team showed that this truly exotic star system orbits around a mutual centre of gravity but the two star groups are separated by more than the distance of Pluto's orbit around our Sun. According to the team, it could have planets in orbit around each of the pairs of stars, any inhabitants of which would have spectacular sunrise and sunsets with five suns of different brightness.

"Our high-performance scientific cameras play a starring role in this very exciting field of discovery and are proving crucial for many of the leading groups in the field and we are delighted to be playing such a pivotal role," says Orla Hanrahan, an imaging application specialist at Andor.

"As well as the iKon-L CCD camera used by the pair of hugely-successful SuperWASP telescopes in this study [www.superwasp.org, custom-designed iKon-L cameras have also been chosen for the Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) telescope array. This new programme, again with strong British scientific representation, has a 12-strong array of telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Each telescope is equipped with specially-modified, red-sensitive iKon-L CCD cameras from Andor designed to detect smaller super-Earth exoplanets, demonstrating white noise characteristics to sub-mmag photometric precision.

Meanwhile, Kennet Harpsoe's Stellar Observations Network Group (SONG) is building their global network of robotic one-metre telescopes around the ultra-sensitive iXon 897 EMCCD camera. The ground-breaking improvement in spatial resolution offered by the iXon 897 was also instrumental in Jesper Skottfelt's discovery of two new variable stars in the crowded central region of the globular cluster NGC 6981."

For more information, please visit the Andor website at www.andor.com.

About Andor

Andor is a global leader in the pioneering and manufacturing of high performance scientific imaging cameras, spectroscopy solutions and microscopy systems for research and OEM markets. Andor has been innovating the photonics industry for over 20 years and continues to set the standard for high performance light measuring solutions, enabling its customers to break new ground by performing light measurements previously considered impossible. Andor's digital cameras, are allowing scientists around the world to measure light down to a single photon and capture events occurring within 1 billionth of a second.

Andor now has over 400 staff across 16 offices worldwide, distributing products to over 10,000 customers in 55 countries. Andor's products are used in a wide range of applications including medical research to further the understanding of heart disease, cancer and neuronal diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Andor also has applications for forensic science and astronomy. Through continuous dialogue with customers and strong teamwork, Andor continues to innovate ground-breaking products that improve the world in which we live.

More information is available at www.andor.com.

About Oxford Instruments plc

Oxford Instruments designs, supplies and supports high-technology tools and systems with a focus on research and industrial applications. Innovation has been the driving force behind Oxford Instruments' growth and success for over 50 years, and its strategy is to effect the successful commercialisation of these ideas by bringing them to market in a timely and customer-focused fashion.

The first technology business to be spun out from Oxford University, Oxford Instruments is now a global company with over 2000 staff worldwide. Its objective is to be the leading provider of new generation tools and systems for the research and industrial sectors with a focus on nanotechnology. Its key market sectors include nano-fabrication and nano-materials. The company's strategy is to expand the business into the life sciences arena, where nanotechnology and biotechnology intersect.

This involves the combination of core technologies in areas such as low temperature, high magnetic field and ultra high vacuum environments; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance; x-ray, electron, laser and optical based metrology; atomic force microscopy; optical imaging; advanced growth, deposition and etching.

Oxford Instruments aims to pursue responsible development and deeper understanding of our world through science and technology. Its products, expertise, and ideas address global issues such as energy, environment, security and health.

For further information, please contact Andor Technology direct or their marketing agency, Catalyst Communications.

Andor Technology plc.

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Andor contact

Jonathan Rice

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Media contact

John Waite

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