Author Topic: Exoplanets large and small, hot and cold...  (Read 12042 times)

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Rick

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Missing Water Mystery Solved in Comprehensive Survey of Exoplanets
« Reply #90 on: Dec 15, 2015, 09:11:52 »
Missing Water Mystery Solved in Comprehensive Survey of Exoplanets

A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery -- why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. The findings offer new insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.

Of the nearly 2,000 planets confirmed to be orbiting other stars, a subset of them are gaseous planets with characteristics similar to those of Jupiter. However, they orbit very close to their stars, making them blistering hot.

Their close proximity to the star makes them difficult to observe in the glare of starlight. Due to this difficulty, Hubble has only explored a handful of hot Jupiters in the past. These initial studies have found several planets to hold less water than predicted by atmospheric models.

Read on: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4788

Rick

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Investigating the Mystery of Migrating 'Hot Jupiters'
« Reply #91 on: Mar 29, 2016, 07:49:32 »
Investigating the Mystery of Migrating 'Hot Jupiters'

The last decade has seen a bonanza of exoplanet discoveries. Nearly 2,000 exoplanets -- planets outside our solar system -- have been confirmed so far, and more than 5,000 candidate exoplanets have been identified. Many of these exotic worlds belong to a class known as "hot Jupiters." These are gas giants like Jupiter but much hotter, with orbits that take them feverishly close to their stars.

At first, hot Jupiters were considered oddballs, since we don't have anything like them in our own solar system. But as more were found, in addition to many other smaller planets that orbit very closely to their stars, our solar system started to seem like the real misfit.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6182

Rick

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NASA's Spitzer Maps Climate Patterns on a Super-Earth
« Reply #92 on: Apr 01, 2016, 09:13:16 »
NASA's Spitzer Maps Climate Patterns on a Super-Earth

Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have led to the first temperature map of a super-Earth planet -- a rocky planet nearly two times as big as ours. The map reveals extreme temperature swings from one side of the planet to the other, and hints that a possible reason for this is the presence of lava flows.

"Our view of this planet keeps evolving," said Brice Olivier Demory of the University of Cambridge, England, lead author of a new report appearing in the March 30 issue of the journal Nature. "The latest findings tell us the planet has hot nights and significantly hotter days. This indicates the planet inefficiently transports heat around the planet. We propose this could be explained by an atmosphere that would exist only on the day side of the planet, or by lava flows at the planet surface."

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6223

Rick

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Astronomers Catalog Planets That May Be Earthlike
« Reply #93 on: Aug 22, 2016, 09:54:40 »
Astronomers Catalog Planets That May Be Earthlike

Using public data collected by NASA's Kepler mission, astronomers have catalogued the planet candidates that may be similar to our third rock from the sun. The tabulation of candidates will help astronomers focus their research efforts in the search for life.

The analysis, led by Stephen Kane, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University in California, highlights 20 candidates in the Kepler trove that are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit their star in the conservative habitable zone -- the range of distances where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. Of these 20 candidates, nine have been previously investigated and determined to be verified planets, including notables like Kepler-62f, Kepler-186f, Kepler-283c, Kepler-296f and Kepler-442b.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6586

Rick

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New Planet Imager Delivers First Science
« Reply #94 on: Feb 19, 2017, 22:04:55 »
New Planet Imager Delivers First Science

A new device on the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii has delivered its first images, showing a ring of planet-forming dust around a star, and separately, a cool, star-like body, called a brown dwarf, lying near its companion star.

The device, called a vortex coronagraph, was recently installed inside NIRC2 (Near Infrared Camera 2), the workhorse infrared imaging camera at Keck. It has the potential to image planetary systems and brown dwarfs closer to their host stars than any other instrument in the world.

"The vortex coronagraph allows us to peer into the regions around stars where giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn supposedly form," said Dmitri Mawet, research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, both in Pasadena. "Before now, we were only able to image gas giants that are born much farther out. With the vortex, we will be able to see planets orbiting as close to their stars as Jupiter is to our sun, or about two to three times closer than what was possible before."

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6730

Rick

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NASA's Kepler Provides Another Peek at Ultra-cool Neighbor
« Reply #95 on: Mar 24, 2017, 10:01:06 »
NASA's Kepler Provides Another Peek at Ultra-cool Neighbor

 On Feb. 22, astronomers announced that the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, hosts a total of seven Earth-size planets that are likely rocky, a discovery made by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also has been observing this star since December 2016. Today these additional data about TRAPPIST-1 from Kepler are available to the scientific community.

During the period of Dec. 15, 2016 to March 4, the Kepler spacecraft, operating as the K2 mission, collected data on the star's minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. These additional observations are expected to allow astronomers to refine the previous measurements of six planets, pin down the orbital period and mass of the seventh and farthest planet, TRAPPIST-1h, and learn more about the magnetic activity of the host star.

More: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6767
« Last Edit: Aug 19, 2017, 09:09:15 by Rick »

Rick

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TRAPPIST-1 is Older Than Our Solar System
« Reply #96 on: Aug 19, 2017, 09:06:46 »
TRAPPIST-1 is Older Than Our Solar System

If we want to know more about whether life could survive on a planet outside our solar system, it's important to know the age of its star. Young stars have frequent releases of high-energy radiation called flares that can zap their planets' surfaces. If the planets are newly formed, their orbits may also be unstable. On the other hand, planets orbiting older stars have survived the spate of youthful flares, but have also been exposed to the ravages of stellar radiation for a longer period of time.

Scientists now have a good estimate for the age of one of the most intriguing planetary systems discovered to date -- TRAPPIST-1, a system of seven Earth-size worlds orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star about 40 light-years away. Researchers say in a new study that the TRAPPIST-1 star is quite old: between 5.4 and 9.8 billion years. This is up to twice as old as our own solar system, which formed some 4.5 billion years ago.

More: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6919