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    Length of Exoplanet Day Measured for First Time

    [30 April 2014] Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), the Leiden exoplanet group has, for the first time, determined the rotation rate of an exoplanet. Beta Pictoris b has been found to have a day that lasts only eight hours. For a press release in English click here

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Ignas Snellen is Professor in astronomy at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. On this website you can find information about his research and teaching. Feel free to contact him for further information.

Extrasolar Planets - the question whether there are other worlds like the Earth, and whether such planets may harbor life, forms the basis of one of the most fascinating research topics today. In 1995, the first planet to orbit a star other than the sun was found, and since more than a thousand extrasolar planets have been discovered. Snellen's research focuses mainly on the atmospheric characterisation of these planets - for example by making use of transits during which a planet crosses the disk of its host star. It is hoped that such techniques can one day be applied to planets like Earth, to establish whether they harbor life.


Snellen's group develops observation and data-reduction techniques for ground-based telescopes, particularly geared to be used for the future extremely large telescopes (ELT). Important successes have been reached using high-dispersion spectroscopy, in which the planet light is separated from the much brighter starlight using its unique spectral features combined with time-differential and/or spatial separation techniques - techniques often developed in his team. Most of the time, the telescopes on La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain) and those from the European Southern Observatory (La Silla & Paranal, Chile) are used for this research.

Snellen's team has also developed a new camera-system to find the brightest transting planets in the sky, MASCARA, of which the first system is operational on La Palma. Look here for news about recent results!

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