Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Worldwide observations confirm nearby 'lensing' exoplanet

04.11.2019

Researchers using telescopes around the world confirmed and characterized an exoplanet orbiting a nearby star through a rare phenomenon known as gravitational microlensing. The exoplanet has a mass similar to Neptune, but it orbits a star lighter (cooler) than the Sun at an orbital radius similar to Earth's orbital radius. Around cool stars, this orbital region is thought to be the birth place of gas-giant planets. The results of this research suggest that Neptune-sized planets could be common around this orbital region. Because the exoplanet discovered this time is closer than other exoplanets discovered by the same method, it is a good target for follow-up observations by world-class telescopes like the Subaru Telescope.

On November 1, 2017 amateur astronomer Tadashi Kojima in Gunma Prefecture, Japan reported an enigmatic new object in the constellation Taurus. Astronomers around the world began follow-up observations and determined that this was an example of a rare event known as gravitational microlensing. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity tells us that gravity warps space.


Red dots indicate previous exoplanet systems discovered by microlensing. Inset: Artist's conception of the exoplanet and its host star.

Credit: University of Tokyo

If a foreground object with strong gravity passes directly in front of a background object in outer space this warped space can act as a lens and focus the light from the background object, making it appear to brighten temporarily.

In the case of the object spotted by Kojima, a star 1600 light-years away passed in front of a star 2600 light-years away. Furthermore, by studying the change in the lensed brightness, astronomers determined that the foreground star has a planet orbiting it.

This is not the first time an exoplanet has been discovered by the microlensing technique. But microlensing events are rare and short lived, so the ones discovered so far lie towards the Galactic Center, where stars are the most abundant. In contrast, this exoplanet system was found in almost exactly the opposite direction as observed from the Earth.

One team led by Akihiko Fukui at the University of Tokyo using a collection of 13 telescopes located around the world, including the 188-cm telescope and 91-cm telescope at NAOJ's Okayama Astrophysical Observatory, observed this phenomenon for 76 days and collected enough data to determine the characteristics of the exoplanet system. The host star has a mass about half the mass of the Sun. The exoplanet around it has an orbit similar in size to Earth's orbit, and a mass about 20% heavier than Neptune.

This orbital radius around this type of star coincides with the region where water condenses into ice during the planet formation phase, making this place theoretically favorable for forming gas-giant planets.

Theoretical calculations show that this kind of planet has an a priori detection probability of only 35%. The fact that this exoplanet was discovered by pure chance suggests Neptune-sized planets could be common around this orbital region.

This exoplanet system is closer and brighter as seen from Earth than other exoplanet systems discovered by microlensing. This makes it a prime target for follow-up observations with world-leading telescopes like the Subaru Telescope or next generation extremely large telescopes like the Thirty Meter Telescope TMT.

Media Contact

Dr. Hitoshi Yamaoka
hitoshi.yamaoka@nao.ac.jp

http://www.nins.jp/english/ 

Dr. Hitoshi Yamaoka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.nao.ac.jp/en/news/science/2019/20191101-okayama.html
http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/ab487f

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The measurements of the expansion of the universe don't add up
19.11.2019 | FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

nachricht How LISA pathfinder detected dozens of 'comet crumbs'
19.11.2019 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Atoms don't like jumping rope

Nanooptical traps are a promising building block for quantum technologies. Austrian and German scientists have now removed an important obstacle to their practical use. They were able to show that a special form of mechanical vibration heats trapped particles in a very short time and knocks them out of the trap.

By controlling individual atoms, quantum properties can be investigated and made usable for technological applications. For about ten years, physicists have...

Im Focus: Images from NJIT's big bear solar observatory peel away layers of a stellar mystery

An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.

With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Structure of a mitochondrial ATP synthase

19.11.2019 | Life Sciences

The measurements of the expansion of the universe don't add up

19.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Ayahuasca compound changes brainwaves to vivid 'waking-dream' state

19.11.2019 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>