Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Astronomers discover two new planets, both among the hottest ever

Astronomers have discovered two new planets outside our solar system, both extremely close to their stars and thus among the hottest ever found.

A University of Florida astronomer is among more than three dozen astronomers who found the new large planets, announced today at the Transiting Extrasolar Planets Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.

Stephen Kane, a UF postdoctoral associate, said he and his colleagues pinpointed the planets by detecting the slight dimming of starlight that occurs when the planets pass in front of their stars. Of about 200 planets discovered so far, the new planets are only the 13th and 14th to be found using this technique, called the transit method. But that’s likely to change quickly as the United Kingdom-based effort to discover planets with the transit method gathers steam, Kane said.

“We can expect these two planets to be the first in a wave of a whole lot of these new types of planets,” he said.

Known as “Hot Jupiters” because of their Jupiter-like size and temperature, the new planets are so close to their stars that they complete their orbit in a mere two and two-and-one-half days, respectively. That compares to 88 days for Mercury, the planet with the fastest orbit nearest the sun in our solar system. The very close orbit also means that the new planets are hotter than Mercury, which has a surface temperature of 752 degrees Fahrenheit. The planets are estimated to have a temperature of at least 3,272 degrees.

There is also evidence that the solar radiation from the stars is so intense that it is whipping away their atmospheres. “Hot Jupiters are assumed to have a significantly reduced lifetime due to their proximity to the star,” Kane said.

Most planets outside our solar system have been found using the radial velocity method, which measures the gravitational wobble in the star induced by the orbiting planet. The transit method would seem at first to be impractical because it requires a lucky break: The orbital plane of the planets under observation must be aligned toward Earth so astronomers can see the starlight dim as the planets pass.

The astronomers who discovered the two new planets dealt with this complication through, in Kane’s words, “brute force.” The astronomers surveyed millions of stars using twin telescopes snapping photos of the southern and northern skies from La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands and Sutherland, South Africa. Each telescope is equipped with eight wide-angle cameras, each of which has a field of view of eight degrees, which comprises a relatively large chunk of the sky. By comparison, the full moon comprises about half a degree.

The work was done through UK’s leading planet detection program, a consortium of eight universities called SuperWASP, or Wide Angle Search for Planets.

Kane’s role in the research was to help pick out from the vast numbers of photographed stars the most likely candidates for further investigation. The job was a difficult one because planets passing in front of stars only slightly diminish the starlight, dimming it by only about 1 percent for just a few hours. Kane also led the research on the prototype for SuperWASP, and has worked on both SuperWASP telescopes, among other efforts.

“We have computer programs which are able to search all of these light curves from the stars and see if there’s something in them which looks like the star has become fainter for a short period, but it’s a complicated task,” Kane said.

After SuperWASP identified the tiny dips in starlight caused when the planets passed in front of their stars, a French-built instrument detected a slight wobble in each star’s motion as the planets passed around them, confirming the existence of the planets.

The planets are located in the constellations Andromeda and Delphinius, respectively. The Andromeda planet is more than 1,000 light years away, while the Delphinius planet is 500 light years away.

Both of the new planets are far too hot to support life. But Kane said their discovery adds to growing knowledge about how planets form, which should help astronomers understand and zero in on Earth-like planets.

“Once we understand planet formation, we’ll understand a lot more about how terrestrial planets form as well,” he said.

Stephen Kane | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

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: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>