Yale finds a planet that won't stick to a scheduleOctober 30, 2014
New Haven, Conn. - For their latest discovery, Yale astronomers and the Planet Hunters program have found a low-mass, low-density planet with a punctuality problem.
The new planet, called PH3c, is located 2,300 light years from Earth and has an atmosphere loaded with hydrogen and helium. It is described in the Oct. 29 online edition of The Astrophysical Journal.
The elusive orb nearly avoided detection. This is because PH3c has a highly inconsistent orbit time around its sun, due to the gravitational influence of other planets in its system. "On Earth, these effects are very small, only on the scale of one second or so," said Joseph Schmitt, a Yale graduate student and first author of the paper. "PH3c's orbital period changed by 10.5 hours in just 10 orbits."
That inconsistency kept it from being picked up by automated computer algorithms that search stellar light curves and identify regular dips caused by objects passing in front of stars.
Luckily, Planet Hunters came to the rescue. The program, which has found more than 60 planet candidates since 2010, enlists citizen scientists to check survey data from the Kepler spacecraft. Planet Hunters recently unveiled a new website and an expanded scientific mission.
"It harnesses the human dimension of science," said Debra Fischer, who leads the exoplanets group at Yale and is a co-author of the paper. "Computers can't find the unexpected, but people can, when they eyeball the data."
More than 300,000 volunteers are part of Planet Hunters, which is coordinated by Yale and the University of Oxford. The program's revamped website will allow Planet Hunters to analyze data more quickly than before, Fischer said. In addition, Planet Hunters is launching an effort to see if there is a correlation between types of stars and the planets that form around them.
"I think we'll be able to contribute some really unique science this way," Fischer said.
Not only did Planet Hunters spot PH3c, but the discovery also enabled astronomers to better characterize two other planets -- one on each side of PH3c. An outer planet, PH3d, is slightly larger and heavier than Saturn, for example. An inner planet, PH3b, may have a rocky composition, like Earth.
"Finding the middle planet was key to confirming the others and allowing us to find their masses," Schmitt said. "The outer planet's orbital period also changes slightly, by about 10 minutes. You need to see both planets' changing orbital periods in order to find out the masses of the planets. One planet doesn't give enough information."
There's also a quirky aspect of the planetary trio, Schmitt added. The outer planet's year is 1.91 times longer than the middle planet's year, and the middle planet's year is 1.91 times longer than the inner planet's year.
"We're not sure if this is just a coincidence or whether this might tell us something about how the planets were formed," Schmitt said.
Related Planets Articles:
Astronomers have found a system of seven Earth-sized planets just 40 light-years away.
Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), have for the first time, achieved a precise size measurement of small dust particles around a young star through radio-wave polarization.
A team of researchers has clarified the origin of the rings recently discovered around two minor planets known as centaurs, and their results suggest the existence of rings around other centaurs.
The sun's activity is determined by the sun's magnetic field.
A new method for analyzing the chemical composition of stars may help scientists winnow the search for Earth 2.0.
The search for habitable, alien worlds needs to make room for a second 'Goldilocks,' according to a Yale University researcher.
Hydrogen is the most-abundant element in the universe, but there is still so much we have to learn about it.
Our Earth consists of silicate rocks and an iron core with a thin veneer of water and life.
New research has revealed that fewer than predicted planets may be capable of harbouring life because their atmospheres keep them too hot.
A new analysis of the ALMA data for a young star HL Tauri provides yet more firm evidence of baby planets around the star.
Related Planets Reading:
The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA
by Nirmala Nataraj (Author), NASA (Photographer), Bill Nye (Photographer)
This magnificent volume offers a rich visual tour of the planets in our solar system. More than 200 breathtaking photographs from the archives of NASA are paired with extended captions detailing the science behind some of our cosmic neighborhood's most extraordinary phenomena. Images of newly discovered areas of Jupiter, fiery volcanoes on Venus, and many more reveal the astronomical marvels of space in engrossing detail. Anyone with an interest in science, astronomy, and the mysteries of the universe will delight in this awe-inspiring guide to the wonders of the solar system. View Details
by Robert Dinwiddie (Author), Heather Couper (Author), John Farndon (Author), Nigel Henbest (Author), David Hughes (Author), Giles Sparrow (Author), Carole Stott (Author), Colin Stuart (Author)
Featuring all-new 3D models built using data gathered by NASA and the European Space Agency, The Planets is an awe-inspiring journey through the Solar System, from Earth to Mars and beyond.
Viewed layer by layer, planets and other objects in the Solar System are taken out of the night sky and presented on a white background, revealing every detail of their surface and internal anatomy in astonishing detail.
Looking at planets, the Sun, hundreds of moons and thousands of asteroids and comets, The Planets includes timelines that chronicle all major Space missions, right... View Details
National Geographic Readers: Planets
by Elizabeth Carney (Author)
This brilliantly illustrated book taps into children's natural curiosity about the vast world of space. This level 2 reader, written in simple language that is easy for young readers to understand, introduces children to our solar system, including all of the planets and dwarf planets, and lots of fascinating fun facts. This reader helps cultivate the explorers of tomorrow!
This high-interest, educationally vetted series of beginning readers features the magnificent images of National Geographic, accompanied by texts written by experienced, skilled children's book authors. The inside... View Details
by Ellen Hasbrouck (Author), Scott McDougall (Illustrator)
Take a trip through the solar system and discover what¹s really up in the sky! Packed with fascinating facts about planets, comets, asteroids and more, Planets is a galaxy of fun for young astronomers...and everybody who gazes at the night sky!
Create your own universe and solar system with reusable stickers of the planets, asteroids, galaxies, and comets! View Details
Lonely Planet New Zealand (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet (Author), Charles Rawlings-Way (Author), Brett Atkinson (Author), Sarah Bennett (Author), Peter Dragicevich (Author), Lee Slater (Author)
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher
Lonely Planet New Zealand is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Experience Maori culture, be wowed by beautiful glaciers or hike through gorgeous scenery; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of New Zealand and begin your journey now!
Inside Lonely Planet's New Zealand Travel Guide:Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your... View Details
The Planets: Third Edition
by Gail Gibbons (Author)
From the burning surface of Venus to the freezing darkness of Neptune, Gail Gibbons takes children on a tour of our planetary neighbors―which are very different from each other in size, shape, orbit, and even weather. Since The Planets was first published in 1993, space exploration has resulted in many new achievements and discoveries. This new edition of The Planets reflects some of these wondrous advances, while still offering young readers a timeless and accessible look at our solar system.View Details
Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk
by Greg Pak (Author), Carlo Pagulayan (Illustrator), Aaron Lopresti (Illustrator), Juan Santacruz (Illustrator), Gary Frank (Illustrator), Takeshi Miyazawa (Illustrator)
When the Illuminati decide that the Hulk is too dangerous to stay on Earth and trick him into exile in outer space, his spaceship accidentally veers off course and the Hulk ends up on the dangerous planet of Sakaar. View Details
Lonely Planet Italy (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet (Author), Cristian Bonetto (Author), Abigail Blasi (Author), Kerry Christiani (Author), Gregor Clark (Author), Belinda Dixon (Author), Duncan Garwood (Author), Paula Hardy (Author), Brendan Sainsbury (Author), Donna Wheeler (Author)
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher
Lonely Planet Italy is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Take in a gondolier's sweet song while gliding past Venetian palaces, sample olives and wines as you traverse Tuscany's storybook hills, or be humbled amid thousands of years of Roman history and art; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Italy now!
Inside Lonely Planet Italy Travel Guide:Full-colour maps and... View Details
Lonely Planet Japan (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet (Author)
#1 best-selling guide to Japan
Lonely Planet Japan is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore a bamboo grove in Arashiyama, marvel at Shinto and Buddhist architecture in Kyoto, or relax in the hot springs of Noboribetsu Onsen; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Japan and begin your journey now!
Inside Lonely Planet Japan Travel Guide:Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and... View Details
The Planet X Report 2017: Photographic Evidence
by Dr. Claudia Albers Albers PhD (Author), Scott C'one (Author)
In the beginning of 2017, we knew Planet X was getting closer to the Sun. The BIG question was, how close? We now know where these objects are and how they are affecting the Sun. View Details