. 24/7 Space News .
Clouds, haze cause astronomers to overestimate size of exoplanets
by Brooks Hays
Graz, Austria (UPI) Jun 15, 2016

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

New research suggests the size of exoplanets may be routinely overestimated, and clouds, scientists say, are to blame.

Astronomers and their observatories have become rather adept at spotting exoplanets, but gathering details -- the planet's size, mass, composition -- remains a challenge.

To better understand the accuracy of their observations, researchers recently took a closer look at two seemingly similar low-mass exoplanets. The two planets orbit their host star in 5 and 12 days and are roughly the same size, at 4 and 5 times the diameter of Earth, respectively. The inner planet is less than six times the mass of Earth and the outer planet is 28 times as massive as Earth, so their similar size suggests the inner planet has a very low density.

Computer simulations of the two planets' evolution suggest the inner, less massive planet, with its close proximity to its star, should have had its atmosphere burned away within the first 100 million years of its existence. But the star and planet are billions of years old.

The only explanation for the anomaly, astronomers argue in a newly published paper, is that the planet is considerably smaller than originally estimated.

Lammer says a smaller planet with an extended atmosphere that has high-altitude features could confuse observations.

"The radius is based on what we see when the planet makes its transit," astronomer Helmut Lammer, a scientist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute, said in a news release. "This is probably distorted by clouds and haze high in the atmosphere, in a region where atmospheric pressure is otherwise very low."

Scientists have identified more than 3,000 exoplanets, and that number will continue to go up as observatories become even more efficient at finding candidates.

In light of the latest research, detailed in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Lammer suggests astronomers should review the results of previous exoplanet surveys, like those undertaken by NASA's Kepler observatory.

"Our results show that CHEOPS scientists need to be cautious about their first measurements," study co-author Luca Fossati said of ESA's forthcoming CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite mission. "Since Kepler has also discovered several similar low-density and low-mass planets, it is very likely that the size measured for many of them also differ from the true value, so there could be a bias in the results."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
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

Previous Report
Planet-Devouring Star Reveals Possible Limestone Crumbs
Kamuela HI (SPX) Jun 16, 2016
A group of researchers using the W. M. Keck Observatory have discovered a planet-like body that may have been encrusted in limestone and is having its surface layers devoured by its deceased host star. In addition to extending a relatively new method of determining the chemical composition of planets to examine their internal structure, the team found that the rocky material being accreted by th ... read more

US may approve private venture moon mission: report

Fifty Years of Moon Dust

Airbus Defence and Space to guide lunar lander to the Moon

A new, water-logged history of the Moon

Rover Opportunity Wrapping up Study of Martian Valley

A little help from friends

Delayed ExoMars mission gets 77-mln-euro boost

CaSSIS Sends First Image of Mars

Blue Origin has fourth successful rocket booster landing

TED Talks aim for wider global reach

Disney brings its brand to Shanghai with new theme park

Tech, beauty intersect in Silicon Valley

China to send Chang'e-4 to south pole of moon's far-side

Experts Fear Chinese Space Station Could Crash Into Earth

Bolivia to pay back loan to China for Tupac Katari satellite

China plans 5 new space science satellites

NASA Ignites Fire Experiment Aboard Space Cargo Ship

Three astronauts touch down after 6 months in space

Cygnus spacecraft begins next phase of OA-6 mission

Cygnus space capsule departs International Space Station

McCain Stands Down: Congress Reaches Compromise on Russian Rockets

SpaceX launches satellites but fails to recover rocket

Launch Vehicle Ascent Trajectories and Sequencing

Arianespace makes history on its latest Ariane 5 mission

Largest crowdsource astronomy network helps confirm discovery of 'Tatooine' planet

Smaller Stars Pack Big X-ray Punch for Would-Be Planets

San Francisco State University astronomer helps discover giant planet orbiting 2 suns

Largest, Widest Orbit "Tatooine" Bolsters Planet Formation Theories

Building the Future: Space Station Crew 3-D Prints First Student-Designed Tool in Space

Ubisoft to let game players join 'Star Trek' crew

Video game makers finding their way in virtual worlds

Serco gets $38 million missile radar contract

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news 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. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. 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. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.