Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
New Method of Finding Planets Scores its First Discovery
by Staff Writers
Cambridge, MA (SPX) May 16, 2013


"Einstein's planet," formally known as Kepler-76b, is a "hot Jupiter" that orbits its star every 1.5 days. Its diameter is about 25 percent larger than Jupiter and it weighs twice as much. This artist's conception shows Kepler-76b orbiting its host star, which has been tidally distorted into a slight football shape (exaggerated here for effect). The planet was detected using the BEER algorithm, which looked for brightness changes in the star as the planet orbits due to relativistic BEaming, Ellipsoidal variations, and Reflected light from the planet. Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA).

Detecting alien worlds presents a significant challenge since they are small, faint, and close to their stars. The two most prolific techniques for finding exoplanets are radial velocity (looking for wobbling stars) and transits (looking for dimming stars). A team at Tel Aviv University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has just discovered an exoplanet using a new method that relies on Einstein's special theory of relativity.

"We are looking for very subtle effects. We needed high quality measurements of stellar brightnesses, accurate to a few parts per million," said team member David Latham of the CfA.

"This was only possible because of the exquisite data NASA is collecting with the Kepler spacecraft," added lead author Simchon Faigler of Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Although Kepler was designed to find transiting planets, this planet was not identified using the transit method. Instead, it was discovered using a technique first proposed by Avi Loeb of the CfA and his colleague Scott Gaudi (now at Ohio State University) in 2003. (Coincidentally, they developed their theory while visiting the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where Einstein once worked.)

The new method looks for three small effects that occur simultaneously as a planet orbits the star. Einstein's "beaming" effect causes the star to brighten as it moves toward us, tugged by the planet, and dim as it moves away. The brightening results from photons "piling up" in energy, as well as light getting focused in the direction of the star's motion due to relativistic effects.

"This is the first time that this aspect of Einstein's theory of relativity has been used to discover a planet," said co-author Tsevi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University.

The team also looked for signs that the star was stretched into a football shape by gravitational tides from the orbiting planet. The star would appear brighter when we observe the "football" from the side, due to more visible surface area, and fainter when viewed end-on. The third small effect was due to starlight reflected by the planet itself.

Once the new planet was identified, it was confirmed by Latham using radial velocity observations gathered by the TRES spectrograph at Whipple Observatory in Arizona, and by Lev Tal-Or (Tel Aviv University) using the SOPHIE spectrograph at the Haute-Provence Observatory in France. A closer look at the Kepler data also showed that the planet transits its star, providing additional confirmation.

"Einstein's planet," formally known as Kepler-76b, is a "hot Jupiter" that orbits its star every 1.5 days. Its diameter is about 25 percent larger than Jupiter and it weighs twice as much. It orbits a type F star located about 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

The planet is tidally locked to its star, always showing the same face to it, just as the Moon is tidally locked to Earth. As a result, Kepler-76b broils at a temperature of about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Interestingly, the team found strong evidence that the planet has extremely fast jet-stream winds that carry the heat around it. As a result, the hottest point on Kepler-76b isn't the substellar point ("high noon") but a location offset by about 10,000 miles.

This effect has only been observed once before, on HD 189733b, and only in infrared light with the Spitzer Space Telescope. This is the first time optical observations have shown evidence of alien jet stream winds at work.

Although the new method can't find Earth-sized worlds using current technology, it offers astronomers a unique discovery opportunity. Unlike radial velocity searches, it doesn't require high-precision spectra. Unlike transits, it doesn't require a precise alignment of planet and star as seen from Earth.

"Each planet-hunting technique has its strengths and weaknesses. And each novel technique we add to the arsenal allows us to probe planets in new regimes," said CfA's Avi Loeb.

Kepler-76b was identified by the BEER algorithm, whose acronym stands for relativistic BEaming, Ellipsoidal, and Reflection/emission modulations. BEER was developed by Professor Tsevi Mazeh and his student, Simchon Faigler, at Tel Aviv University, Israel.

The paper announcing this discovery has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and is available online.

.


Related Links
Harvard-Smithsonian Center
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
Sifting Through the Atmosphere's of Far-Off Worlds
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 14, 2013
Gone are the days of being able to count the number of known planets on your fingers. Today, there are more than 800 confirmed exoplanets - planets that orbit stars beyond our Sun - and more than 2,700 other candidates. What are these exotic planets made of? Unfortunately, you cannot stack them in a jar like marbles and take a closer look. Instead, researchers are coming up with advanced techn ... read more


EXO WORLDS
Where on Earth did the moon's water come from

Water on moon, Earth have a common source

Northrop Grumman Completes Lunar Lander Study for Golden Spike Company

Scientists Use Laser to Find Soviet Moon Rover

EXO WORLDS
Living and Dying on Mars

NASA Curiosity Rover Team Selects Second Drilling Target on Mars

Opportunity Making Smallest Turn Yet, As Dust Storm Affects Rover

More than 78,000 people apply for one-way trip to Mars

EXO WORLDS
Danish Space Venture ready for lift off

Researchers use graphene quantum dots to detect humidity and pressure

Outside View: Patents laws and suffering innovators

Glow-in-the-Dark Plants on the ISS

EXO WORLDS
China launches communications satellite

On Course for Shenzhou 10

Yuanwang III, VI depart for space-tracking missions

Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

EXO WORLDS
Star Canadian spaceman back on Earth, relishing fresh air

ISS Statistics Tell the Story of Science in Orbit

Spaceman says goodbye to ISS with David Bowie classic

Canadian ISS astronaut returns to Earth a star

EXO WORLDS
ILS Proton Successfully Launches EUTELSAT 3D for Eutelsat

Russia's Proton-M Spacecraft Set to Orbit French Satellite

ATV Albert Einstein installed on Ariane 5 launcher

ILS and EchoStar Sign Launch Contract

EXO WORLDS
Critical Kepler Reaction Wheel Fails: Mission End In Sight

Sifting Through the Atmosphere's of Far-Off Worlds

New Method of Finding Planets Scores its First Discovery

Team Takes Part in Discovering New Planet

EXO WORLDS
Scientists uncover the fundamental property of astatine, the rarest atom on Earth

Heady mathematics

Cornstarch proves to be worth its weight in gold

One order of steel; hold the greenhouse gases




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