Planetary Discovery Rocks Qatar’s World

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent


Things are looking up for the Gulf nation of Qatar, way up. It was only a mere twenty days ago that the minuscule desert sheikhdom stunned the world by snatching the World Cup 2022 hosting gig right out from underneath the noses of a bevy of notable contenders. And who could forget the famous London-based Harrod’s Department Store effortlessly falling right into Qatar’s hands this past spring? Now Qatari scientists have revealed some Earth-jarring news of the planetary persuasion. This past week it was revealed that a new planet was discovered by a team of Qatari scientists led by Dr. Khalid Al Subai, who is the research director at the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

The new planet has been named after the country that found it. ‘Qatar-1b’ is what is known as an exoplanet, which means it is a planet that orbits a far away star. According to recently released data, Qatar-1b orbits its own star every 34 hours. In sheer girth, the newly discovered planet is larger than Jupiter and is 550 light years away. It also has a molten hot temperature that peaks at 1,100 degrees Celsius.

The discovery of Qatar-1b was a joint effort by Qatari, British and American scientists. Qatari scientists began photographing the night sky just over New Mexico, where Qatar has its own fleet of wide-angled cameras situated, at the beginning of this year. The results were sent back to Qatar for analysis by Dr. Al Subai. They were also shared with the scientific departments of St Andrews and Leicester universities in the UK for examination. The purpose of the analysis was to identify potential planetary candidates from the several hundreds of thousands of ordinary stars. Once the candidates were whittled down to a manageable number, a team of scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the US was able to, along with Dr. Al-Subai, confirm the discovery and collect additional data such as the radius, temperature and orbit of the new planet.

In a recent interview, Dr. Al Subai shared his joy and future hopes for scientific coordination between Qatar and nations around the world, “Qatar is proud to contribute to the search for planets around other stars. 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.”

Undoubtedly, Qatar will continue to push the envelope when it comes to science, research, education and all around prowess over its Arab neighbors. The Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has been a fierce advocate for the education and progress of the Qatari people.  One of his biggest and most successful ambitions has been the creation of American styled universities, that teach an American curriculum, to the Qatari youth. Over the next decade, or two, Qatar plans to be a regional hub for finance, science and education.


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