Posts Tagged ‘exoplanets’

Exoplanet – NASA impression

YZ Ceti is a recently discovered star with three known planets (b,c and d) orbiting very close to it. Although some types of mean motion resonance, or near resonance, are quite common e.g. 2:1 or 3:2 conjunction ratios, this one is a bit different.

The orbit periods in days are:
YZ Ceti b = 1.96876 d
YZ Ceti c = 3.06008 d
YZ Ceti d = 4.65627 d

This gives these conjunction periods:
c-d = 8.9266052 d
b-c = 5.5204368 d
b-d = 3.4109931 d
(Note the first two digits on each line.)

Nearest matching period:
34 c-d = 303.50457 d
55 b-c = 303.62403 d
89 b-d = 303.57838 d

34,55 and 89 are Fibonacci numbers.
Therefore the conjunction ratios are linked to the golden ratio (Phi).

Phi = 1.618034
(c-d) / (b-c) = 1.6170106
(b-c) / (b-d) = 1.618425

Data source:

K2-138 could even have more than five planets. [image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

And it’s a good one. The abstract says: ‘The periods of the five planets are 2.35, 3.56, 5.40, 8.26, and 12.76 days, forming an unbroken chain of near 3:2 resonances.’

The Exoplanet Explorers project has led to the first discovery of a multi-planet system solely through crowdsourcing efforts, as Futurism reports.

Through a project called Exoplanet Explorers, a band of citizen scientists has discovered K2-138, a far-off planetary system that houses least five exoplanets.

This is the first time that a multi-planet system has been discovered entirely through crowdsourcing.


Jupiter-sized exoplanet [Wikipedia]

It seems the planetary structure of our solar system is an oddity compared to most of the exoplanetary systems so far discovered. On the other hand it’s easier to find planets close to their stars than those a long way away, so what is known so far might not be giving us the whole picture.

An international research team led by Université de Montréal astrophysicist Lauren Weiss has discovered that exoplanets orbiting the same star tend to have similar sizes and a regular orbital spacing, says

This pattern, revealed by new W. M. Keck Observatory observations of planetary systems discovered by the Kepler Telescope, could suggest that most planetary systems have a different formation history than the solar system.

Thanks in large part to the NASA Kepler Telescope, launched in 2009, many thousands of exoplanets are now known. This large sample allows researchers to not only study individual systems, but also to draw conclusions on planetary systems in general.


Star system has record eight exoplanets

Posted: December 14, 2017 by oldbrew in Astronomy, Astrophysics, News
Tags: ,

Kepler Space Telescope [credit: NASA]

The two nearest planets to the star Kepler-90 (90b and 90c) are very close to a 5:4 (i.e. first order) orbit ratio.

Nasa finds a distant star circled by eight planets, equal to the complement in our own Solar System, BBC News reports.

It’s the largest number of worlds ever discovered in a planetary system outside our own.

The star known as Kepler-90, is just a bit hotter and larger than the Sun; astronomers already knew of seven planets around it.

The newly discovered world is small enough to be rocky, according to scientists.


Although the author appears sold on the idea of trace gases controlling the temperature of planetary atmospheres, the discussion about planets and water is worth a look. The answer to the question may depend on more powerful space telescopes like the James Webb.

Wherever we find water on Earth, we find life writes Elizabeth Tasker at Many Worlds.

It is a connection that extends to the most inhospitable locations, such as the acidic pools of Yellowstone, the black smokers on the ocean floor or the cracks in frozen glaciers.

This intimate relationship led to the NASA maxim, “Follow the Water”, when searching for life on other planets.

Yet it turns out you can have too much of a good thing.


Orbiting dust cloud – artists’ impression [credit: Karen L. Teramura]

An orbiting cloud of dust round ‘Tabby’s star’ may lack excitement for casual observers, but there it is – probably.

University of Arizona astronomer Huan Meng and co-authors have found the long-term dimming of KIC 8462852 — a main-sequence F-type star located in the constellation Cygnus, about 1,480 light-years from Earth — appears to be weaker at longer infrared (IR) wavelengths of light and stronger at shorter ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths, reports

Such reddening is characteristic of dust particles and inconsistent with more fanciful ‘alien megastructure’ concepts, which would evenly dim all wavelengths of light.


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

One of the authors of the research says: “The results of our study show us that we have identified the governing parameters in our model”. Both climate and exoplanet research could benefit from the findings.

The Sun shines from the heavens, seemingly calm and unvarying. In fact, it doesn’t always shine with uniform brightness, but shows dimmings and brightenings, reports

Two phenomena alone are responsible for these fluctuations: the magnetic fields on the visible surface and gigantic plasma currents, bubbling up from the star’s interior.

A team headed by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen reports this result in today’s issue of Nature Astronomy. For the first time, the scientists have managed to reconstruct fluctuations in brightness on all time scales observed to date – from minutes up to decades.


Much media attention on this new paper this week. Is there a surprise lurking in the details now that the orbit period of the seventh planet has been confirmed?.

What the numbers in the diagram show is the orbits per planet in a fixed period (top row), the conjunctions per planet pair in the same period (second row), and the ratios that represents (third row).

The number of conjunctions of any two planets is the difference between the two orbit numbers in a given period, which in this case is equivalent to just under 1446 Earth days (see data below).

Apart from the obvious symmetry of the ratios, something else arose from the science paper.


Exoplanets up to 90 times closer to their star than Earth is to the Sun.

Excellent – we outlined this ‘resonance chain’ (as they have now dubbed it) in an earlier post here at the Talkshop [see ‘Talkshop note’ in the linked post for details].

When NASA announced its discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system back in February it caused quite a stir, and with good reason says

Three of its seven Earth-sized planets lay in the star’s habitable zone, meaning they may harbour suitable conditions for life.

But one of the major puzzles from the original research describing the system was that it seemed to be unstable.

“If you simulate the system, the planets start crashing into one another in less than a million years,” says Dan Tamayo, a postdoc at U of T Scarborough’s Centre for Planetary Science.


Planetary detective work [credit:]

Pattern recognition is still best left to humans it seems.

You don’t need to be a professional astronomer to find new worlds orbiting distant stars, as reports.

Darwin mechanic and amateur astronomer Andrew Grey this week helped to discover a new exoplanet system with at least four orbiting planets. But Andrew did have professional help and support.

The discovery was a highlight moment of this week’s three-evening special ABC Stargazing Live, featuring British physicist Brian Cox, presenter Julia Zemiro and others.

Size comparison of GJ 1132 b (aka Gliese 1132 b) with Earth [credit: Wikipedia]

Early indications from models suggest that ‘an atmosphere rich in water and methane would explain the observations very well.’

Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b, reports the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

This marks the first detection of an atmosphere around a low-mass Super-Earth, in terms of radius and mass the most Earth-like planet around which an atmosphere has yet been detected.

Thus, this is a significant step on the path towards the detection of life on an exoplanet. The team, which includes researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, used the 2.2 m ESO/MPG telescope in Chile to take images of the planet’s host star GJ 1132, and measuring the slight decrease in brightness as the planet and its atmosphere absorbed some of the starlight while passing directly in front of their host star.

While it’s not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction: the detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b marks the first time an atmosphere has been detected around a planet with a mass and radius close to that of Earth (1.6 Earth masses, and 1.4 Earth radii).

Exoplanets up to 90 times closer to their star than Earth is to the Sun.

Exoplanets up to 90 times closer to their star than Earth is to the Sun.

We did know something about this system already, but more work has led to today’s announcement.

Astronomers have never seen anything like this before, says Seven Earth-size alien worlds orbit the same tiny, dim star, and all of them may be capable of supporting life as we know it, a new study reports. 

“Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today,” study co-author Brice-Olivier Demory, a professor at the Center for Space and Habitability at the University of Bern in Switzerland, said in a statement. 

HR 8799 system [image credit: Many Worlds]

HR 8799 system [image credit: Many Worlds]

It can’t get much more obvious than this. The report says ‘it’s a one-two-four-eight resonance’ of the orbits of these massive planets, but we find it’s much nearer to 1:2:4:9, with the outer planet taking 450 years for one orbit.

The era of directly imaging exoplanets has only just begun, but the science and viewing pleasures to come are appealingly apparent says Many Worlds.

This evocative movie of four planets more massive than Jupiter orbiting the young star HR 8799 is a composite of sorts, including images taken over seven years at the W.M. Keck observatory in Hawaii. The movie clearly doesn’t show full orbits, which will take many more years to collect.

The closest-in planet circles the star in around 49 years [report incorrectly says 40]; the furthest takes more than 400 years. But as described by Jason Wang,  an astronomy graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, researchers think that the four planets may well be in resonance with each other.

Still from pulsar animation.  [Image credit: NASA]

Still from pulsar animation. [Image credit: NASA]

The exoplanet revolution began 25 years ago today. On Jan. 9, 1992, astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail published a paper in the journal Nature announcing the discovery of two planets circling an incredibly dense, rapidly rotating stellar corpse known as a pulsar.

It was a landmark find: while several alien-world “candidates” had recently been spotted, Wolszczan and Frail provided the first confirmation that planets exist beyond our own solar system, reports Mike Wall.

“From the very start, the existence of such a system carried with it a prediction that planets around other stars must be common, and that they may exist in a wide variety of architectures, which would be impossible to anticipate on the basis of our knowledge of the solar system alone,” Wolszczan, who’s based at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in a note about the pulsar planets for the “Name Exoworlds” contest sponsored by the International Astronomical Union.

Subaru telescope, Hawaii (far left) [image credit: Wikipedia]

Subaru telescope, Hawaii (far left) [image credit: Wikipedia]

Being able to measure things like the mass, temperature and atmospheric composition of exoplanets should generate some interesting new data for analysis, with possible implications for climate theory.

A team of scientists and engineers led by Princeton researchers recently reported the successful operation of a new instrument for the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii that will allow astronomers to make direct observations of planets orbiting nearby stars.

The instrument, dubbed CHARIS, was designed and built by a team led by N. Jeremy Kasdin, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. It allows astronomers to isolate light reflecting from planets larger than Jupiter and then analyze the light to determine details about the planets’ size, age and atmospheric constituents.


Synchronized orbits of the Kepler-80 system [Credit: Florida Institute of Technology]

Synchronized orbits of the Kepler-80 system [Credit: Florida Institute of Technology]

Another example of planetary resonance has been discovered thanks to NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

Located about 1,100 light years away, Kepler-80, named for the NASA telescope that discovered it, features five small planets orbiting in extreme proximity to their star.

As early as 2012, Kepler scientists found that all five planets orbit in an area about 150 times smaller than the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, with “years” of about one, three, four, seven and nine days.


An artist's image of a hot-Jupiter exoplanet [credit: NASA]

An artist’s image of a hot-Jupiter exoplanet [credit: NASA]

What exactly goes on in terms of interactions between giant planets and their host star? The researchers admit the need ‘to disentangle some of the very poorly understood physics behind tidal dissipation’, as reports. More observations needed.

A giant “hot Jupiter” exoplanet has recently been detected by an international team of astronomers led by Kaloyan Penev of Princeton University. The newly found alien world, designated HATS-18b, is an interesting case of a planet tidally spinning up its parent star.


Artist's impression [credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser]

Artist’s impression [credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser]

Is there life beyond our solar system? If there is, our best bet for finding it may lie in three nearby, Earth-like exoplanets.

For the first time, an international team of astronomers from MIT, the University of Liège in Belgium, and elsewhere have detected three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth.

The sizes and temperatures of these worlds are comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and are the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the solar system. The results are published today in the journal Nature.


Artist's view of 55 Cancri e [credit: Wikipedia]

Artist’s view of 55 Cancri e [credit: Wikipedia]

Unusual atmospheric data from this exoplanet: not much heat transfer from the side permanently facing its star to the dark side, giving it a ‘large day–night temperature gradient’.

The orbit period is only 18 hours, as it’s much nearer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun. It may also have ‘an unknown source of heat’, as reports.

An international team of astronomers, led by the University of Cambridge, has obtained the most detailed ‘fingerprint’ of a rocky planet outside our solar system to date, and found a planet of two halves: one that is almost completely molten, and the other which is almost completely solid.


Eccentric orbit example: Pluto [credit: NASA]

Eccentric orbit example: Pluto [credit: NASA]

Surprisingly intricate interactions are going on ‘behind the scenes’ in some, if not all, planetary systems – including our own of course.

A team of scientists has discovered a highly unusual planetary system comprised of a sun-like star, a dwarf star, and an enormous planet sandwiched in between, reports ScienceDaily.

The planet, first discovered in 2011 orbiting a star called HD 7449, is about eight times the mass of Jupiter and has one of the most eccentric orbits ever found.