The announcement, culminating seven years of research, will be published in the Sept. 13 issue of the journal Nature.
The news provides a preliminary picture of what could be the Earth's destiny in four to five billion years. That's when the sun will exhaust its hydrogen fuel, expand enormously as a red giant and expel its outer layers in an explosive helium flash.
The planet discovered by the researchers, "V 391 Pegasi b," has survived all those changes to its sun.
The international research team was led by Roberto Silvotti from the INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy. They discovered the planet orbiting "V 391 Pegasi," a faint star in the constellation of Pegasus.
"The exciting thing about finding a planet around this star is that it indicates that planetary systems can survive the giant phase and the helium flash of their parent star," said Kawaler, an Iowa State professor of physics and astronomy. "It bodes well for the survival of our own Earth in the distant future. Before V 391 Pegasi lost its outer regions at the helium flash, the planet orbited the star at about the same distance that the Earth orbits our sun."
But, Kawaler said, "We shouldn't take too much heart in this -- this planet is larger than Jupiter, so a smaller planet like the Earth could still be vulnerable."
Kawaler helped the 23-member research team make its discovery by coordinating observations during a 2003 run of the Whole Earth Telescope. Iowa State is a lead institution in the Whole Earth Telescope, a worldwide network of cooperating observatories that allow astronomers to take uninterrupted measurements of variable stars that change in brightness. The discovery of V 391 Pegasi b was made by detailed measurements of the clocklike variation of the star caused by the planet tugging on it.
Kawaler also advanced the project by doing theoretical calculations to make sure irregularities of the star's orbital motion were caused by the orbiting planet.
The astronomers found that at the present time, V 391 Pegasi b has an orbital distance 1.7 times the medium distance between the Earth and the sun. As stars age and reach their red giant phase, they undergo an enormous expansion (with their volume increasing by a factor of millions) that can easily reach and engulf their inner planets.
"The same will happen to the sun," Silvotti said. "As far as our planets are concerned, we expect Mercury and Venus to disappear in the sun's envelope, whereas Mars should survive. The fate of the Earth is less clear because its position is really at the limit: it appears more likely that the Earth will not survive the red giant expansion of the sun either, but it is not for sure."
As is the case for almost all planets beyond our solar system, V 391 Pegasi b cannot be seen directly. Silvotti said it took seven years of observations and calculations to confirm the existence of the planet.
Steve Kawaler | EurekAlert!
Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney
Airborne thermometer to measure Arctic temperatures
11.01.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering