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

International team to use Hubble Space Telescope to answer key astronomy questions
by Staff Writers
Exeter, UK (SPX) Aug 23, 2011

An artist's impression of the Jupiter-size extrasolar planet, HD 189733b, being eclipsed by its parent star. ESA, NASA, M. Kornmesser (ESAHubble) and STScI.

An international team of scientists led by the University of Exeter is aiming to answer some of the biggest questions facing astronomy today. The team has secured a large programme of nearly 200 hours on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to explore the atmospheric conditions of planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets.

Large programmes on the Hubble Space Telescope have historically led to data sets with a lasting legacy.

The research will focus on 'Hot Jupiters,' which are exoplanets that are similar in size to Jupiter, but with temperatures of 1,000 degrees or more because they orbit so closely to their respective stars. Data gathered using the Hubble Space Telescope will tell us more than ever before about the atmospheric composition of these planets outside our solar system.

By understanding the chemical make-up of exoplanet atmospheres around eight 'hot Jupiters' and perfecting the difficult techniques needed to make these precise measurements, the researchers will also help prepare for future searches for life on exoplanets.

Lead researcher Dr David Sing of the University of Exeter said: "This is one of the biggest exoplanet research programmes ever using the Hubble Space Telescope. It is a major coup for the University of Exeter to have secured such a significant amount of time on the world's best telescope.

"Astronomers have now detected hundreds of exoplanets and we now know that some of these planets have extreme environments, unlike anything in our own solar system. Everything we have discovered so far about these planets has been puzzling so I am expecting the unexpected."

The team aims to use the Hubble Space Telescope to detect and understand a mysterious gas in the stratospheres around these planets, causing a similar effect to the ozone layer on Earth. This gas is detectable as it absorbs light from the parent star when the planet passes in front of the star.

In August 2010, two teams - one at the University of Exeter and the other in Florida - developed a new technique, which led to the detection of potassium around a 'Hot Jupiter', giving us the first clues as to why some of these planets appear as black as charcoal in visible light.

The research team, led by the University of Exeter and including scientists from the University of California Santa Cruz, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), University of Arizona, Princeton University, IAP Paris, NASA and Oxford University, will begin its observations in October 2011.

Over the next two years, the researchers will use tools developed at the University of Exeter to analyse the huge amounts of data collected.

The University of Exeter has one of the UK's largest astrophysics groups working in the fields of star formation and exoplanet research.

The group focuses on some of the most fundamental problems in modern astronomy - when do stars and planets form and how does it happen? They conduct observations with the world's leading telescopes and carry out numerical simulations to study young stars, their planet-forming discs, and exoplanets.

This research helps to put our Sun and the solar system into context and understand the variety of stars and planetary systems that exist in our Galaxy. Through its science strategy, the University is seeking to invest 230 million pounds of internal and external income in five key themes of activity, one of which is Extrasolar Planets.


Related Links
University of Exeter
Space Telescope News and Technology at

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

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

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

Hubble Offers a Dazzling Necklace
Baltimore, MD (SPX) Aug 12, 2011
A giant cosmic necklace glows brightly in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image. The object, aptly named the Necklace Nebula, is a recently discovered planetary nebula, the glowing remains of an ordinary, Sun-like star. The nebula consists of a bright ring, measuring 12 trillion miles wide, dotted with dense, bright knots of gas that resemble diamonds in a necklace. A pair of stars ... read more

Man in the Moon Looking Younger

GRAIL Moon Twins are Joined to Their Booster

Moon younger than previously thought

GRAIL Launch Less Than One Month Away

Russian, European space agencies to team up for Mars mission

New Rover Snapshots Capture Endeavour Crater Vistas

France, Russia talk of Mars mission

Possibility of Mars microbial life eyed

Recent grad's astro feats regarded as research crown 'joule'

Draper Spacesuit Could Keep NASA Astronauts Stable, Healthier in Space

NASA Picks Three Proposals for Flight Demonstration

NASA Selects XCOR to Participate in Suborbital Flight Contract

Chinese orbiter launch failure will not affect unmanned space module launch

Rocket malfunction causes satellite to not reach preset orbit

China satellite aborts mission after 'malfunction'

Pausing for Tiangong

ISS crew safe despite supply failure: Russia, US

Robonaut successfully passes first test on ISS

Russian Progress space freighter set to undock from ISS

First 3D video transmission live from space

Russian spaceship crashes back to Earth

Russia grounds rockets after launch failure

Russia loses contact with new satellite

China successfully launches maritime satellite

Astronomers Find Ice and Possibly Methane on Snow White

Hubble to Target 'Hot Jupiters'

Stellar eclipse gives glimpse of exoplanet

Alien World is Blacker than Coal

Dutch judge slaps ban on Samsung smartphones

NRL Set to Launch Experimental TacSat-4 Spacecraft

New theory may shed light on dynamics of large-polymer liquids

Sony remodels PlayStation Home

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