Two more kepler planets confirmed

Aug 08, 2011 By Jon Voisey
Artst concept of the Kepler telescope in orbit. Credit: NASA

Hot on the heels of confirming one Kepler planet, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope announces the confirmation of another planet. Another observatory, the Nordic Optical Telescope, confirms its first Kepler planet as well, this one as part of a binary system and providing new insights that may force astronomers to revisit and revise estimations on properties of other extrasolar planets.

The first reported of these planets was the announcement from the Nordic Optical Telescope of the confirmation of 14b. The team estimates the planet to be eight times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits its in a short 7 days, putting this object into the class of hot Jupiters. As noted above, the star is in a binary system with the second star taking some 2,800 years to complete one .

In the announcement the team analyzed the data taking into consideration an effect that has been left out of previous studies of . The team found that the glare from the nearby star in the binary orbit spilled over onto the image of the star around which the planet orbited. This extra light would dilute the eclipse caused by the planet and subsequently, changed the estimations of the planets properties. The team reported that not correcting for this , “leads to an underestimate of the radius and mass of the planet by 10% and 60%, respectively.” While this consideration would only apply for planets orbiting stars that were in binary systems, or line of sight double stars, the Kepler 14 system did not appear to be a without high resolution imaging from the Palomar Observatory. This begs the question of whether or not any of the other 500+ known extrasolar planets are in similar systems that have not yet been resolved and whether their parameters may need revision.

The next planet, reported at the end of July, has been dubbed Kepler 17b. Again, this planet falls into the category of , although this one is only two and a half time times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits a star very similar the Sun in mass and radius, although expected to be somewhat younger. The observations of the star outside of planetary transits revealed a good deal of activity with temporary dips that did not persist on a regular basis like the signal from the planet. Such variance is likely due to stellar activity and Sunspots and allowed the team to reveal more information about the planet.

Because the planet could also eclipse starspots, it created a stroboscopic effect and the team confirmed the planet orbits in the same direction as the star spins. This is notable since several are known to have retrograde orbits.

Explore further: Lucky star escapes black hole with minor damage

Related Stories

Discovery of an extrasolar earth-sized planet

Oct 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- There are now over 490 confirmed extrasolar planets. The vast majority are gas giants like Jupiter, but they are much stranger because many orbit close to their stars and so are much hotter ...

New planet discovered in Trinary star system

Jul 14, 2011

Until recently, astronomers were highly skeptical of whether or not planets should be possible in multiple star systems. It was expected that the constantly varying gravitational force would eventually tug ...

The Kepler Mission

Apr 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Since the first planet around another star (an "extrasolar planet") was discovered by SAO astronomers and others in 1989, over 450 extrasolar planets have been found. Their study now comprises a whole new ...

A New Way to Find Earths

Jul 09, 2010

Astronomers have used a completely new technique to find an exotic extrasolar planet. The same approach might even be sensitive enough to find planets as small as the Earth in orbit around distant stars.

Recommended for you

Image: Galactic wheel of life shines in infrared

16 hours ago

It might look like a spoked wheel or even a "Chakram" weapon wielded by warriors like "Xena," from the fictional TV show, but this ringed galaxy is actually a vast place of stellar life. A newly released ...

New window on the early Universe

Oct 22, 2014

Scientists at the Universities of Bonn and Cardiff see good times approaching for astrophysicists after hatching a new observational strategy to distill detailed information from galaxies at the edge of ...

User comments : 0