Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
Astronomers with NASA's Kepler Mission find 'puzzling pair of planets'
by Staff Writers
Ames, IA (SPX) Jun 22, 2012


The discovery was made possible by NASA's Kepler Mission, a spacecraft launched in 2009 that's carrying a photometer to measure changes in star brightness. Its primary job is to use tiny variations in the brightness of the stars within its view to find earth-like planets that might be able to support life.

Two planets with very different densities and compositions are locked in surprisingly close orbits around their host star, according to astronomers working with NASA's Kepler Mission. One planet is a rocky super-Earth about 1.5 times the size of our planet and 4.5 times the mass. The other is a Neptune-like gaseous planet 3.7 times the size of Earth and eight times the mass. The planets approach each other 30 times closer than any pair of planets in our solar system.

The discovery of the Kepler-36 planetary system about 1,200 light years from Earth is an example of planets breaking with the planetary pattern of our solar system: rocky planets orbiting close to the sun and gas giants orbiting farther away.

The discovery is reported in the online Science Express. Lead authors of the study are Joshua Carter, a Hubble Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Eric Agol, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Washington.

"The planetary system reported in this paper is another example of an 'extreme' planetary system that will serve as a stimulus to theories of planet migration and orbital rearrangement," researchers wrote in the paper.

Steve Kawaler, an Iowa State University professor of physics and astronomy, was part of the research team that provided information about the properties of the planets' host star. He and other researchers measured changes in the star's brightness to precisely identify the size, mass and age of the host star.

Kawaler explained the importance of the discovery: "Small, rocky planets should form in the hot part of the solar system, close to their host star - like Mercury, Venus and Earth in our Solar System. Bigger, less dense planets - Jupiter, Uranus - can only form farther away from their host, where it is cool enough for volatile material like water ice, and methane ice to collect.

In some cases, these large planets can migrate close in after they form, during the last stages of planet formation, but in so doing they should eject or destroy the low-mass inner planets.

"Here, we have a pair of planets in nearby orbits but with very different densities. How they both got there and survived is a mystery."

The discovery was made possible by NASA's Kepler Mission, a spacecraft launched in 2009 that's carrying a photometer to measure changes in star brightness. Its primary job is to use tiny variations in the brightness of the stars within its view to find earth-like planets that might be able to support life.

The Kepler Asteroseismic Investigation is also using data from that photometer to study star oscillations, or changes in brightness, that offer clues to a star's interior structure.

The investigation is led by a four-member steering committee: Kawaler, Chair Ron Gilliland of the Space Telescope Science Institute based in Baltimore, Jorgen Christensen-Dalsgaard and Hans Kjeldsen, both of Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark.

Kawaler said the Kepler spacecraft was essential to discovering what the researchers called in their paper "this puzzling pair of planets."

"The seismic signal is very small, and only Kepler has the sensitivity and persistence to reveal it," Kawaler said. "Also, the transit signal from the planets crossing in front of the star is very small, and only visible with Kepler's level of sensitivity."

.


Related Links
Iowa State University
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO WORLDS
Small Planets Don't Need 'Heavy Metal' Stars to Form
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 14, 2012
The formation of small worlds like Earth previously was thought to occur mostly around stars rich in heavy elements such as iron and silicon. However, new ground-based observations, combined with data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, show small planets form around stars with a wide range of heavy element content and suggest they may be widespread in our galaxy. A research team l ... read more


EXO WORLDS
Researchers Estimate Ice Content of Crater at Moon's South Pole

Researchers find evidence of ice content at the moon's south pole

Nanoparticles found in moon glass bubbles explain weird lunar soil behaviour

UA Lunar-Mining Team Wins National Contest

EXO WORLDS
Orbiter Out of Precautionary 'Safe Mode'

Researchers calculate size of particles in Martian clouds of CO2 snow

ESA tests self-steering rover in 'Mars' desert

Opportunity Faces Slow Going Due To Communication Issues

EXO WORLDS
Complex Challenges Solved In Tech Meetings For Commercial Crew Program

Boeing Completes Key Reviews of Space Launch System

Two NASA Visualizations Selected for Computers Graphics Showcase

NASA technology-sharing portal announced

EXO WORLDS
That's No Lab, It's a Space Station

China to conduct first manual space docking

Designer elaborates on challenges facing Shenzhou-9 mission

Rocket Scientist Who 'Spied for China' Freed

EXO WORLDS
Did You Say 1.2 Billion Particles Per Month?

Varied Views from the ISS

Strange Geometry - Yes, It's All About the Math

Capillarity in Space - Then and Now, 1962-2012

EXO WORLDS
A milestone in launcher preparations for Arianespace's fourth Ariane 5 flight of 2012

US military launches new satellite into space

NASA Administrator Bolden Views Historic SpaceX Dragon Capsule

NASA's NuSTAR Mission Lifts Off

EXO WORLDS
Where Are The Metal Worlds And Is The Answer Blowing In The Wind

Metal-poor stars are rich with small planets

Astronomers spy 2 planets in tight quarters as they orbit a distant star

Astronomers with NASA's Kepler Mission find 'puzzling pair of planets'

EXO WORLDS
Study: Handwriting in decline with tech

E-book trend slow at US libraries: study

Samsung launches new phone in US, taking on Apple

China defends rare earths policy




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement