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




EXO WORLDS
New Planet-weighing Technique Found
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 03, 2012


Illustration only.

Although there have been about 800 extra-solar planets discovered so far in our galaxy, the precise masses of the majority of them are still unknown, as the most-common planet-finding technique provides only a general idea of an object's mass. Previously, the only way to determine a planet's exact mass was if it transits-has an orbit that periodically eclipses that of its host star.

Former Carnegie scientist Mercedes Lopez-Morales has, for the first time, determined the mass of a non-transiting planet. The work is published by Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Knowing a body's mass is essential first to confirm it is a planet and if so, to determine whether it is rocky and possibly habitable or large and gassy. Until now, only the masses of transiting planets have been measured. Transiting planets are also the only type of extra-solar objects on which atmospheres have been detected.

Lopez-Morales, along with her colleagues Florian Rodler and Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Sciences, ICE (CSIC-IEEC, in Barcelona, Spain) measured the exact mass of a non-transiting planet. They did this using a new method that involves studying the carbon monoxide signature of the planet's atmosphere-detecting, in the process, the atmosphere of this non-transiting planet.

The planet is called Tau Boo b, located in the constellation of Bootes, and it orbits a star about 50 light years from Earth that's bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. The planet is similar in size to Jupiter and is so close to its star (only 8 stellar radii), that a year for this planet asts only 3.3 Earth days. Furthermore, its surface temperature reaches 1,500 degrees C, making it inhospitable to life.

Discovered in 1996, Tau Boo b was one of the first planets originally detected by the radial velocity method. This planet does not transit, but its presence and characteristics were initially determined by the wobble of its host star. This technique only provides a rough indication of a detected planet's mass.

In June 2011, Lopez-Morales' team conducted five hours of observations at near infrared wavelength (2.3 microns). They obtained data from the high-resolution spectrograph CRIRES, an instrument mounted on one of the four 8.2m Very Large Telescopes (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile.

The observations and subsequent data analysis revealed the presence of carbon monoxide in the planet's atmosphere. In addition, by studying the planet's orbital motion through the displacement of spectral lines of carbon monoxide, the team was able to calculate its exact mass-5.6 times Jupiter-a first using this particular method, and also a first for a non-transiting planet.

An independent study conducted by researchers at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands obtained a similar result for the same planetary system, confirming the potential of this technique.

"This method represents a strong advance in the field of exoplanets," said Lopez-Morales. "It opens a new path to determine masses of exoplanets and the composition of their atmospheres"

The research team expects many more planets will be weighted using this new technique. They are also convinced that in the future, they will be able to detect molecules that are associated with the presence of life in non-transiting distant planets."

.


Related Links
Carnegie Institution of Washington
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
Dramatic change spotted on a faraway planet
Baltimore MD (SPX) Jul 02, 2012
Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have seen dramatic changes in the upper atmosphere of a faraway planet. Just after a violent flare on its parent star bathed it in intense X-ray radiation, the planet's atmosphere gave off a powerful burst of evaporation. The observations give a tantalising glimpse of the changing climates and weather on planets outside our Solar System. ... read more


EXO WORLDS
ESA to catch laser beam from Moon mission

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

EXO WORLDS
Martian moon Phobos could be life clue

Exhumed rocks reveal Mars water ran deep

Houston Workshop Marks Key Step in Planning Future Mars Missions

Getting a Feel for the Terrain

EXO WORLDS
Boeing Validates Performance of CST Vehicle's Attitude Control Engine

Northrop Grumman's Modular Space Vehicle Completes CDR Process

Astronaut Zucchini - A Tradition of Sprouts in Space

First Space-Bound Orion on Its Way to Kennedy

EXO WORLDS
Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth

China's Space Program Accelerates

China spacecraft set to return to Earth Friday

Experts respond to rumors about Shenzhou-9

EXO WORLDS
Three astronauts land on Earth from ISS in Russian capsule

ISS crew rests before return to Earth

ISS Resupply Important to Kennedy's Past and Future

Andre wraps up six months of work on ISS

EXO WORLDS
ATK Completes Software TIM for Liberty under NASA's Commercial Crew Program

MSG-3 Now Installed In Ariane 5

Haigh-Farr Supports SpaceX in First Docking of the Dragon Capsule to ISS

NASA Adds Orbital's Antares To Launch Services II Contract

EXO WORLDS
New Planet-weighing Technique Found

Innovative technique enables scientists to learn more about elusive exoplanet

Dramatic change spotted on a faraway planet

New Way of Probing Exoplanet Atmospheres

EXO WORLDS
Body scanner takes tailoring to the masses

H.K.'s SCMP editor under fire as press freedom 'shrinks'

Apple pays $60 mn to end China iPad trademark row

Now Everyone Can Build a Satellite Like NASA: Online!




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