Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Kepler-444 has ancient planetary system

27.01.2015

Space telescope discovers five exoplanets orbiting a star in the constellation of Cygnus

A group of scientists led by the University of Birmingham has discovered the oldest known solar system containing Earth-sized planets. Five of these comparatively small planets orbit the star Kepler-444, whose birth dates back about 11.2 billion years.


Planetary system at a remote sun: five Earth-sized planets orbit the star Kepler-444 in the constellation Cygnus. With an age of 11.2 billion years, this is the oldest known system of Earth-sized planets.

© Tiago Campante / Peter Devine

The new findings are based on data from NASA’s Kepler Space Observatory. They suggest that habitable worlds might have existed earlier in the Universe than previously thought. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and the University of Göttingen in Germany contributed to this groundbreaking study.

The planetary system around the star Kepler-444 appears like a distant version of our own inner solar system: Even though not four, but five small planets orbit the host star, their sizes all lie between those of Mercury and Venus.

The exoplanets orbit Kepler-444 in less than ten days or, equivalently, at less than one-tenth Earth’s distance from the Sun. The age of the system is a surprise: with 11.2 billion years, it is almost two and a half times as old as our solar system. So far, no other system of comparable age is known to host Earth-sized planets.

The team carried out the research using asteroseismology: with the help of the Kepler Space Observatory the researchers listened to the natural resonances of the host star which are caused by sound waves trapped within it. “These oscillations lead to miniscule variations in its brightness which allow us to measure its diameter, mass, and age”, says Saskia Hekker from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.

The planets were detected from the dimming that occurs when they passed in front of the star. This fractional fading in the intensity of the light received from the star enables scientists to accurately measure the sizes of the planets relative to the size of the star.

The Kepler Space Observatory has been searching for exoplanets since 2009. Over a period of four years it repeatedly turned its gaze to star Kepler-444. “Long, uninterrupted observations are necessary to observe the weak pulsations. Only with the exquisite, high quality data from the Kepler mission has this been possible”, explains Dr. Timothy White from the University of Göttingen.

"There are far-reaching implications from this discovery”, says Tiago Campante from the University of Birmingham, who led the research. It proves that Earth-sized planets have formed throughout most of the Universe’s 13.8-billion-year history. Hekker clarifies that “We therefore think it is possible that worlds which could support life may have existed even in this early phase of the Universe’s evolution.

Since the beginning of this year, Saskia Hekker heads the new Max Planck Research Group “Stellar Ages and Galactic Evolution” at the MPS. After receiving her doctorate in 2007 at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, she did research at the Royal Observatory of Belgium and at the University of Birmingham in England. In 2011 she received the prestigious Veni Fellowship of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to continue her work at the Astronomical Institute "Anton Pannenkoek" of the University of Amsterdam. Since 2013 Hekker’s scientific home is the MPS in Göttingen where she was awarded a Starting Grant of the European Research Council.

Contact

Dr. Birgit Krummheuer
Press Officer

Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen
Phone: +49 551 384979-462

Fax: +49 551 384979-240

Email: Krummheuer@mps.mpg.de


Dr. Saskia Hekker
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen
Phone: +49 551 384979-257

Email: Hekker@mps.mpg.de


Dr. Timothy White
Institut für Astrophysik, Universität Göttingen
Phone: +49 551 3913-811

Email: twhite@astro.physik.uni-goettingen.de


Original publication
T.L. Campante et al.

An ancient extrasolar system with five sub-Earth-size planets

Astrophysical Journal, 27 January 2015

Dr. Birgit Krummheuer | Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/8916263/exoplanets-kepler-444

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas

nachricht Calculating quietness
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>