Kepler 30 Solar System

Introducing the Planet Kepler 30 solar system…

Astronomers have discovered an alien solar system whose planets are arranged much like those in our own solar system, a find that suggests most planetary systems start out looking the same, scientists say.

Researchers studying the star system Kepler-30, which is 10,000 light-years from Earth, found that its three known worlds all orbit in the same plane, lined up with the rotation of the star — just like the planets in our own solar system do. The result supports the leading theory of planet formation, which posits that planets take shape from a disk of dust and gas that spins around newborn stars.

“In agreement with the theory, we have found the star’s spin to be aligned with the planets,” said study co-author Dan Fabrycky, of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “So this result is profound because it is basic data testing the standard planet formation theory.”

Interactions among planets can later throw such ordered arrangements out of whack, researchers added, creating the skewed orbits seen in many alien systems today. [Gallery: The Strangest Alien Planets]

The Kepler-30 system consists of three known extrasolar planets circling a sunlike star. All three worlds — Planet Kepler-30b, Planet Kepler-30c and Planet Kepler-30d — are much larger than Earth.

All eight planets still orbit on nearly the same horizontal plane, which matches up with the plane of the sun’s equator. It’s what makes our home system look like a flat, spinning disc, and also a sign that our system hasn’t experienced anything too chaotic since its formation more than 4 billion years ago.

Until now, many astronomers thought that comparatively few star systems end up looking like ours. The planet-hunting Kepler telescope has spotted many systems in which the arrangement of worlds is askew rather than orderly. But now, thanks to new research being published in the journal Nature this week, scientists say there might be many more star systems that look like ours.

Bumpy Beginnings

The birth of a solar system can be a messy process. The forming star’s gravitational pull attracts dust, gas, and rock that form a ring around the newborn. After billions of years, the chaotic ring eventually starts to differentiate itself into the component parts of what we recognize as a solar system.

More Out There

Drake Deming, a professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland and author of a commentary accompanying the new study, says the researcher’s methods for tracking planetary orbits could eventually become a new standard for planet hunters, especially those looking for more solar systems like ours in the Universe.

Before Kepler, most of the exoplanets discovered were hot Jupiters—huge gaseous planets that were usually orbiting their stars in wildly oblique patterns. Astrophysicists know a lot about these “hot Jupiter” systems because they were relatively easy to study without space-based telescopes like Kepler.

But now researchers are finding more evidence that multiplanet systems such as ours are far more common than the solitary gas giants. “New studies have shown that indeed only one out of every 100 stars have a hot Jupiter,” Sanchis-Ojeda says. “There are many more small planets close to a host star.”

Although the Kepler-30 planets probably don’t hold life—all three are too close to their home star—they represent another step closer to finding a solar system that might, Deming says. The next step could be a new NASA program that, if funded in the fall, would take Sanchis-Ojeda’s methods even further. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a Kepler-like satellite, but instead of focusing on a small sliver of the sky, TESS would survey the entire sky for nearby solar systems that could be similar to ours. “TESS would be an all-sky version of Kepler,” Deming says. “We’ll have a better chance of finding nearby stars. It might be the future of exoplanetary science”.

 

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Great News, the Kepler Mission is extended until 2016

Press Release: NASA Kepler Mission Awarded Extension through FY16.

“Kepler offers a new technical capability, opening a new measurement parameter space, and as often happens with such developments, that has led to unexpected results…. There has been a continuous stream of new findings – the assimilation and exploitation of new opportunities is just beginning,” as stated by the committee in the 2012 Senior Review report.

Kepler has revolutionized our understanding of exoplanets and the study of stellar seismology and variability,” said Roger Hunter, Kepler project manager at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “There is currently no other mission in development that can replace or surpass the precision of Kepler. This extended mission will afford Kepler a unique opportunity to rewrite our understanding of the galaxy and our place in it.”

Launched in March 2009, the Kepler spacecraft identifies planet candidates by repeatedly measuring the tiny change in brightness of more than 150,000 stars to detect when a planet transits the face of the star. The size of the planet can be derived from these periodic dips in brightness. At least three transits are required to verify a signal as a planet.

WE WILL FIND A PLANET KEPLER THAT CAN SUPPORT LIFE IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS!

For more information from the press release go to http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/2012-senior-review

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Planet Kepler 34 & 35

Until now such a circumbinary planet‘s (a planet orbiting two stars) has only been known of in science fiction. One such example is ”Tatooine” in the film Star Wars.

Using public data attained from NASA’s Kepler mission, astronomers announced the discovery of two new ‘double-star’ planet systems – Kepler-34 and Kepler-35. This was announced at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas, Jan. 8-12, 2012.

An artist’s rendition of the Kepler-35 planetary system, in which a Saturn-size planet orbits a pair of stars. Kepler-35b orbits its smaller and cooler host stars than our sun every 131 days, and the stellar pair orbits each other ever 21 days .

“This work further establishes that such ‘two sun’ planets are not rare exceptions, but may in fact be common, with many millions existing in our galaxy,” said William Welsh of San Diego State University and Kepler participating scientist who led the study. “This discovery broadens the hunting ground for systems that could support life.”

The two new planets, named Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b, are both gaseous Saturn-size planets. The planets reside too close to their parent stars to be in the “habitable zone” (the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface).

At 4,900 and 5,400 light-years from Earth, located in the constellation Cygnus, Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b are among the most distant planets discovered. The findings are described in a new study published today (Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012) in the journal Nature.

 

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First Inhabitable, Earth-like planet to be spotted in 2013?

Astronomers believe 2013 may be the year when the first “Earth twin,” or truly Earth-like alien planet, may be spotted.

While astronomers found exoplanets in the last few years that share key characteristics with our own world, a true “alien Earth” has yet to be found, Space.com reported.

“I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo told Space.com (further reading from Space.com here).

Geoff Marcy, a veteran planet hunter at the University of California Berkeley, echoed Mendez’s optimism: ”The first planet with a measured size, orbit and incident stellar flux that is suitable for life is likely to be announced in 2013,”

Mikko Tuomi, of the University of Hertfordshire in England, told SPACE.com there are about 200 billion stars that host at least 50 billion planets.

“Assuming that 1:10,000 are similar to the Earth would give us 5,000,000 such planets,” Tuomi said.

Tuomi had led teams reporting the discovery of several potentially habitable planet candidates this year, including an exoplanet orbiting the star Tau Ceti just 11.9 light-years from Earth.

“So I would say we are talking about at least thousands of such planets,” Tuomi said.

Both Mendez and Marcy believe the find will be made with the help of the National Aeronautics and the Kepler Space Telescope.

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Space Exploration review of 2011

From understanding our Earth, to new clues about possible alien life. From fostering life-changing research in space, to sharing NASA’s vision of the future with those destined to journey there.  It may be argued that 2011 was the beginning of a new era in the human exploration of our solar system.

This video looks back at 2011 and the achievements attained through NASA’s space programs.

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Merry Christmas & Happy new year from NASA in outerspace!

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Planet Kepler 20F

‘Planet Kepler’ is celebrating after NASA announced the discovery of two new Planets with the Kepler telescope earlier this evening.

(Artists impression of Planet Kepler 20F)

Kepler 20-F and 20-e are both ‘Earth-sized planets’ orbiting their (sun like) star. However, unlike Kepler 22-b (announced by NASA on the 5th December) the two newly found planets are not based in the ‘habitable zone’ where life conditions may be suitable for life to evolve. However, Dr Francois Fressin from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge has just stated: “This could be an important milestone. I think 10 years or maybe even 100 years from now people will look back and ask when was the first Earth-sized planet found. It is very exciting.”

About Kepler-20F & Kepler 20E

Although Kepler-20f may have a thick water-vapour atmosphere, it’s surface is believed to be too hot for life to exist.

Both Kepler planets are thought to be rocky, with a composition of iron and silicate. Kepler-20f’s surface temperature is predicted to be 426C. Kepler-20e’s surface temperature is thought to be 726c.

Kepler-20e & Kepler-20f size comparison with Earth and Venus

Both Planets circle their parent star (sun) closely with year-long orbital periods of just 19 and six days respectively.

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Planet Kepler Teleconference today

Official Kepler Logo

NASA will host a news teleconference at 1 p.m. EST (7pm GMT), today (Tuesday, Dec. 20). The teleconference will announce new discoveries by the Kepler mission.

The teleconference participants are:
– Nick Gautier, Kepler project scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.
– Francois Fressin, lead author, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
– David Charbonneau, professor of astronomy, Harvard University
– Linda Elkins-Tanton, director of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington.

For dial-in information, media representatives should e-mail their name, affiliation and telephone number to Trent Perrotto at: trent.j.perrotto@nasa.gov

Stay tunned to Planet Kepler for a full roundup tomorrow morning.

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Planet Kepler 22b Joke

Joke Via 909Gag

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NASA plan to attain samples from Comets

NASA is testing a new harpoon to collect surface samples off asteroids and comets. NASA plan to attain subsurface samples by shooting a harpoon like device from a space craft into a comet.

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