Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomy student discovers 17 new planets, including Earth-sized world

28.02.2020

University of British Columbia astronomy student Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new planets, including a potentially habitable, Earth-sized world, by combing through data gathered by NASA's Kepler mission.

Over its original four-year mission, the Kepler satellite looked for planets, especially those that lie in the "Habitable Zones" of their stars, where liquid water could exist on a rocky planet's surface.


Sizes of the 17 new planet candidates, compared to Mars, Earth, and Neptune. The planet in green is KIC-7340288 b, a rare rocky planet in the Habitable Zone

Credit: Michelle Kunimoto

The new findings, published in The Astronomical Journal, include one such particularly rare planet. Officially named KIC-7340288 b, the planet discovered by Kunimoto is just 1 ½ times the size of Earth - small enough to be considered rocky, instead of gaseous like the giant planets of the Solar System - and in the habitable zone of its star.

"This planet is about a thousand light years away, so we're not getting there anytime soon!" said Kunimoto, a PhD candidate in the department of physics and astronomy. "But this is a really exciting find, since there have only been 15 small, confirmed planets in the Habitable Zone found in Kepler data so far."

The planet has a year that is 142 ½ days long, orbiting its star at 0.444 Astronomical Units (AU, the distance between Earth and our Sun) - just bigger than Mercury's orbit in our Solar System, and gets about a third of the light Earth gets from the Sun.

Of the other 16 new planets discovered, the smallest is only two-thirds the size of Earth - one of the smallest planets to be found with Kepler so far. The rest range in size up to eight times the size of Earth.

Kunimoto is no stranger to discovering planets: she previously discovered four during her undergraduate degree at UBC. Now working on her PhD at UBC, she used what is known as the "transit method" to look for the planets among the roughly 200,000 stars observed by the Kepler mission.

"Every time a planet passes in front of a star, it blocks a portion of that star's light and causes a temporary decrease in the star's brightness," Kunimoto said. "By finding these dips, known as transits, you can start to piece together information about the planet, such as its size and how long it takes to orbit."

Kunimoto also collaborated with UBC alumnus Henry Ngo to obtain razor-sharp follow-up images of some of her planet-hosting stars with the Near InfraRed Imager and Spectrometer (NIRI) on the Gemini North 8-metre Telescope in Hawaii.

"I took images of the stars as if from space, using adaptive optics," she said. "I was able to tell if there was a star nearby that could have affected Kepler's measurements, such as being the cause of the dip itself."

In addition to the new planets, Kunimoto was able to observe thousands of known Kepler planets using the transit-method, and will be reanalysing the exoplanet census as a whole.

"We'll be estimating how many planets are expected for stars with different temperatures," said Kunimoto's PhD supervisor and UBC professor Jaymie Matthews. "A particularly important result will be finding a terrestrial Habitable Zone planet occurrence rate. How many Earth-like planets are there? Stay tuned."

Media Contact

Sachi Wickramasinghe
sachi.wickramasinghe@ubc.ca
604-822-4636

 @UBCnews

http://www.ubc.ca

Sachi Wickramasinghe | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://news.ubc.ca/2020/02/28/ubc-student-discovers-17-new-planets-including-potentially-habitable-earth-sized-world/
http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/ab6cf8

Further reports about: Earth-like planets Kepler Sun giant planets habitable zone

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Belle II yields the first results: In search of the Z′ boson
06.04.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Physik

nachricht Scientists see energy gap modulations in a cuprate superconductor
02.04.2020 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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: When ions rattle their cage

Electrolytes play a key role in many areas: They are crucial for the storage of energy in our body as well as in batteries. In order to release energy, ions - charged atoms - must move in a liquid such as water. Until now the precise mechanism by which they move through the atoms and molecules of the electrolyte has, however, remained largely unknown. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have now shown that the electrical resistance of an electrolyte, which is determined by the motion of ions, can be traced back to microscopic vibrations of these dissolved ions.

In chemistry, common table salt is also known as sodium chloride. If this salt is dissolved in water, sodium and chloride atoms dissolve as positively or...

Im Focus: Harnessing the rain for hydrovoltaics

Drops of water falling on or sliding over surfaces may leave behind traces of electrical charge, causing the drops to charge themselves. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz have now begun a detailed investigation into this phenomenon that accompanies us in every-day life. They developed a method to quantify the charge generation and additionally created a theoretical model to aid understanding. According to the scientists, the observed effect could be a source of generated power and an important building block for understanding frictional electricity.

Water drops sliding over non-conducting surfaces can be found everywhere in our lives: From the dripping of a coffee machine, to a rinse in the shower, to an...

Im Focus: A sensational discovery: Traces of rainforests in West Antarctica

90 million-year-old forest soil provides unexpected evidence for exceptionally warm climate near the South Pole in the Cretaceous

An international team of researchers led by geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have now...

Im Focus: Blocking the Iron Transport Could Stop Tuberculosis

The bacteria that cause tuberculosis need iron to survive. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now solved the first detailed structure of the transport protein responsible for the iron supply. When the iron transport into the bacteria is inhibited, the pathogen can no longer grow. This opens novel ways to develop targeted tuberculosis drugs.

One of the most devastating pathogens that lives inside human cells is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. According to the...

Im Focus: Physicist from Hannover Develops New Photon Source for Tap-proof Communication

An international team with the participation of Prof. Dr. Michael Kues from the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz University Hannover has developed a new method for generating quantum-entangled photons in a spectral range of light that was previously inaccessible. The discovery can make the encryption of satellite-based communications much more secure in the future.

A 15-member research team from the UK, Germany and Japan has developed a new method for generating and detecting quantum-entangled photons at a wavelength of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

13th AKL – International Laser Technology Congress: May 4–6, 2022 in Aachen – Laser Technology Live already this year!

02.04.2020 | Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

TU Dresden chemists develop noble metal aerogels for electrochemical hydrogen production and other applications

06.04.2020 | Life Sciences

Lade-PV Project Begins: Vehicle-integrated PV for Electrical Commercial Vehicles

06.04.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Lack of Knowledge and Uncertainty about Algorithms in Online Services

06.04.2020 | Social Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>