Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCF, UCLA astronomers first to measure night and day on extrasolar planet

16.10.2006
Observations hold promise for future studies of other extrasolar planets

University of Central Florida Astronomy professor Joseph Harrington and University of California at Los Angeles professor Brad M. Hansen and their team have made the first direct observation of distinct day and night temperatures on a planet orbiting another star.

Their published work appears in this week's Science Express, the online version of Science Magazine. The announcement was made today in Pasadena, Calif., at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. UCF will host the meeting in Orlando next year. The DPS includes 1,282 planetary scientists and astronomers, including 232 non-U.S. members.

The team used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to measure the infrared light emitted by the planet upsilon Andromedae b at five points around its orbit. The planet orbits a star located 263 trillion miles from Earth in the constellation Andromeda.

At each point during the observations, different portions of the planet's day and night hemispheres were in view, creating a rise-and-fall pattern in the light level that was synchronized with the planet's known orbit.

This information helps planetary scientists choose among several competing hypotheses regarding weather on so-called "hot Jupiter" planets, which orbit very close to their stars. Temperatures on these planets are about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, Harrington and Hansen calculated. Hot Jupiters have small enough orbits that the energy they absorb and reradiate from their host stars dominates their own internal energy losses.

"How they absorb and reradiate this energy is fundamental to understanding the behavior of their atmospheres," Harrington and Hansen said in their published article. "Studying planetary atmospheres under such exotic conditions puts terrestrial and solar-system meteorology into a universal context, which aids in our understanding of weather on all planets," Harrington added.

A number of models predict that strong winds transport energy from the day side to the night side. "But, our points are almost exactly synced up with the known orbit, which indicates almost immediate reradiation of energy, very little energy transport," Harrington said. "That's new, and very exciting. The temperature difference between day and night is also very strong, which is more evidence for immediate reradiation."

Why don't the models work for upsilon Andromedae b? "That's going to be a hot topic now," Harrington said.

Since the first planet orbiting another sun-like star was discovered in 1995, more than 200 such planets have been found, but scientists still cannot see the planets as separate images from their stars.

"In the past, we could only directly measure planets that happened to pass in front of and behind their stars from our point of view," Harrington said. "That only works for certain planets, and only at two points in the orbit. Our new method doesn't have those limitations, which opens up opportunities to observe more planets, and to get data all around their orbits. We need that to learn how their atmospheres work."

So when will someone discover an Earth-like planet around a sun-like star with a temperature that could support life as we know it? "It may not be that long of a wait," Harrington said. "NASA's Kepler mission should find several such planets, but technology is moving so fast, it could be that someone else does it first." The unmanned Kepler mission is scheduled for launch in October 2008.

Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucf.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>