Kepler Detects Atmosphere of Hot World

Aug 06, 2009
Kepler Spies Changing Phases on a Distant World
Exoplanet orbiting close to its sun. Image credit: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's new exoplanet-hunting Kepler space telescope has detected the atmosphere of a known giant gas planet, demonstrating the telescope's extraordinary scientific capabilities. The discovery will be published Friday, Aug. 7, in the journal Science.

The find is based on a relatively short 10 days of test data collected before the official start of science operations. Kepler was launched March 6, 2009, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The observation demonstrates the extremely high precision of the measurements made by the telescope, even before its calibration and data analysis software were finished.

"As NASA's first exoplanets mission, Kepler has made a dramatic entrance on the planet-hunting scene," said Jon Morse, director of the Science Mission Directorate's Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Detecting this planet's atmosphere in just the first 10 days of data is only a taste of things to come. The planet hunt is on!"

Comparison of ground-based and space-based light curves for hot exoplanet HAT P7b. Image credit: NASA

Kepler team members say these new data indicate the mission is indeed capable of finding Earth-like , if they exist. Kepler will spend the next three-and-a-half years searching for planets as small as Earth, including those that orbit in a warm zone where there could be water. It will do this by looking for periodic dips in the brightness of stars, which occur when orbiting planets transit, or cross in front of, the stars.

"When the light curves from tens of thousands of stars were shown to the Kepler science team, everyone was awed; no one had ever seen such exquisitely detailed measurements of the light variations of so many different types of stars," said William Borucki, the principal science investigator and lead author of the paper.

The observations were collected from a planet called HAT-P-7, known to transit a star located about 1,000 light years from Earth. The planet orbits the star in just 2.2 days and is 26 times closer than Earth is to the sun. Its orbit, combined with a mass somewhat larger than the planet Jupiter, classifies this planet as a "hot Jupiter." It is so close to its star, the planet is as hot as the glowing red heating element on a stove.

Distributions of mass and orbit size for discovered planets. Image credit: NASA

The Kepler measurements show the transit from the previously detected HAT-P-7. However, these new measurements are so precise, they also show a smooth rise and fall of the light between transits caused by the changing phases of the planet, similar to those of our moon. This is a combination of both the light emitted from the planet and the light reflected off the planet. The smooth rise and fall of light is also punctuated by a small drop in light, called an occultation, exactly halfway between each transit. An occultation happens when a planet passes behind a star.

The new Kepler data can be used to study this hot Jupiter in unprecedented detail. The depth of the occultation and the shape and amplitude of the light curve show the planet has an atmosphere with a day-side temperature of about 4,310 degrees Fahrenheit. Little of this heat is carried to the cool night side. The occultation time compared to the main transit time shows the planet has a circular orbit. The discovery of light from this planet confirms the predictions by researchers and theoretical models that the emission would be detectable by Kepler.

This new discovery also demonstrates Kepler has the precision to find Earth-size planets. The observed brightness variation is just one and a half times what is expected for a transit caused by an Earth-sized planet. Although this is already the highest precision ever obtained for an observation of this star, Kepler will be even more precise after analysis software being developed for the mission is completed.

"This early result shows the Kepler detection system is performing right on the mark," said David Koch, deputy principal investigator of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "It bodes well for Kepler's prospects to be able to detect Earth-size planets."

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

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User comments : 5

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Edylc
4 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2009
nice
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Aug 07, 2009
interesting..
docknowledge
not rated yet Aug 07, 2009
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
omatumr
1.7 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2009
THE SEARCH FOR EARTH-LIKE PLANETS

"It bodes well for Kepler's prospects to be able to detect Earth-size planets."


The following information on the Earth and the Sun may help NASA's Astrophysics Division use the Kepler space telescope to locate other Earth-like planets.

Ordinary meteorites and rocky, Earth-like planets are made mostly of Fe, O, Ni, Si and S - elements that violent nuclear reactions formed near the core of a supernova.

In 1977 Peter Toth reported that the Sun may be a pulsar [1].

In 1983 it was reported that Fe, O, Ni, Si and S are the most abundant elements in the Sun, although its surface is covered with a veneer of lightweight elements [2]

In 1992 Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail [3] discovered rocky, Earth-like planets orbiting another pulsar, PSR 1257 12. In 1994 this finding was confirmed [4].

In 2001, it was shown that repulsive interactions between neutrons in the core of the Sun trigger a series of nuclear reactions that generate solar luminosity, solar neutrinos and solar wind H (a neutron-decay product) in the proportions observed [5].

In 2003 repulsive interactions between neutrons in a pulsar about 1 AU away was confirmed as the energy source that heats Earth, the first known rocky planet [6].

http://tinyurl.com/2et3mc

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com


REFERENCES:

1. Peter Toth, "Is the Sun a pulsar?", Nature 270 (1977) 159-160.

2. O. K. Manuel and Golden Hwaung, "Solar abundance of the elements", Meteoritics 18 (1983) 209-222.

3. A. Wolszczan and D. A. Frail, %u201CA planetary system around the millisecond pulsar PSR1257 12", Nature 355 (1992) 145-147.

4. A. Wolszczan, %u201CConfirmation of earth-mass planets orbiting the millisecond pulsar PSR B 1257 12%u201D, Science 264 (1994) 538-542.

5. O. Manuel, C. Bolon, A. Katragada, and M. Insall1, "Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy", Journal of Fusion Energy 19 (2001) 93-98: http://tinyurl.com/39kwoz

6. O. Manuel, E. Miller, and A. Katragada, "Neutron repulsion confirmed as energy source", Journal of Fusion Energy 20 (2002) 197-201: http://tinyurl.com/38un57
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2009
Ordinary meteorites and rocky, Earth-like planets are made mostly of Fe, O, Ni, Si and S - elements that violent nuclear reactions formed near the core of a supernova.


Inherent in the way atoms evolve and meteorites form. They are too small for volatiles to stay and non-volatile elements that are inherently rare due to way they are created cannot be expected to be in meteorites. So this kind of like pointing out that water is wet. Only a bit less obvious.

In 1977 Peter Toth reported that the Sun may be a pulsar [1].


For which there is no followup. Not even by Peter Toth.

In 1983 it was reported that Fe, O, Ni, Si and S are the most abundant elements in the Sun, although its surface is covered with a veneer of lightweight elements [2]


By Oliver. With no confirmation from anyone, except Oliver of course. The only way Oliver could even begin to show evidence would be to build Sun Diver. And I think Dr. Brin skipped over a few details on how Sun Diver could work. Great book by the way.

In 2001, it was shown that repulsive interactions between neutrons in the core of the Sun trigger a series of nuclear reactions that generate solar luminosity, solar neutrinos and solar wind H (a neutron-decay product) in the proportions observed [5].


Again by Oliver. There is no evidence to support Oliver's claim except for other unsupported papers by Oliver. This is usually called circular reasoning.

In 2003 repulsive interactions between neutrons in a pulsar about 1 AU away was confirmed as the energy source that heats Earth, the first known rocky planet [6].


Oliver means HE CLAIMS that this is the case based on his unsupported theories. Similar to people claiming the Earth is only 6000 years old because the Bible shows it, something that would be true only if the Bible was reliable. Neither can be considered reliable sources without confirmation from independent sources. Oliver has none although he has claimed such in several posts. In all cases the independent paper was from Oliver or from long ago papers that are no longer considered to have much to do with reality by anyone except Oliver.

Ethelred