exoplanet transit

All posts tagged exoplanet transit

The tightly packed system, named Kepler-444, is home to five small planets in very compact orbits. The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they transit the disc of their parent star, as shown in this artist's conception. From http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/astronomers-discover-ancient-system-with-five-small-planets/.

The tightly packed system, named Kepler-444, is home to five small planets in very compact orbits. The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they transit the disc of their parent star, as shown in this artist’s conception. From http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/astronomers-discover-ancient-system-with-five-small-planets/.

In journal club on Friday, we discussed a fascinating paper from Campante and colleagues announcing discovery of one of the oldest planetary systems ever discovered — Kepler-444. The system comprises five planets, ranging from roughly Mercury- to Venus-sized with orbital periods from about 3 to 9 days.

Studying the frequencies of oscillations within the K-dwarf host star (an approach known as asteroseismology), Campante et al. estimate the host star, and therefore probably the planets, is about 11 billion years old, almost as old as the Milky Way galaxy itself.

To put that age into perspective, by the time our solar system formed, about 5 billion years ago, the Kepler-444 was already a billion years older than our solar system is now.

The existence of such an old system tells us that rocky planets began forming almost as soon as the Milky Way itself formed, which allows for the exciting possibility of very ancient life in the galaxy.

Present at journal club were Jennifer Briggs, Trent Garrett, Nathan Grisgby, Emily Jensen, Liz Kandziolka, Brenton Peck, and Jacob Sabin.

Mechanical failures interrupted Kepler's original mission, but the telescope is still hunting exoplanets. From http://www.nature.com/news/three-super-earth-exoplanets-seen-orbiting-nearby-star-1.16740.

Mechanical failures interrupted Kepler’s original mission, but the telescope is still hunting exoplanets. From http://www.nature.com/news/three-super-earth-exoplanets-seen-orbiting-nearby-star-1.16740.

Discussed a brilliant paper today in journal club from Ian Crossfield and collaborators, in which they announce the discovery of a three-planet system around a nearby M-dwarf star.

The team found the new system in data from the re-incarnated Kepler mission called K2. This system is only the second discovered by the mission (the first was announced a few months ago).

This new system is especially exciting because, as the authors point out, it is observable by other available facilities, allowing astronomers to characterize the planets and star in detail.

The outermost planet in the system, with an orbital period of 45 days, is very near the inner edge of the system’s habitable zone and has a temperature of about 310 K (100 F), making it plausibly habitable. Combined with the fact that we can probably characterize the planet in detail, there’ll probably be a flurry of exciting studies of the system very soon.

Journal club was attended by Jennifer Briggs, Trent Garrett, Nathan Grigsby, Emily Jensen, Liz Kandziolka, and Brenton Peck.