In May 2013 we witnessed the end of an era. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which discovered approximately 1,000 alien worlds (and additional 3,200 that are pending approval) stopped functioning. Afore Kepler, we considered universe as a place with an unknown number of planets. In fact, 20 years ago we didn’t recognized any exoplanets (planets that orbit alien suns). Now we recognize thousands. And though we can’t be sure of the precise number of alien worlds, we now trust that nearly every star has at least one planet (maybe more).
All because of Kepler. And now, it’s back.
NASA declared that Kepler had been revived, thanks to a bit of technical creativity. And yesterday they stated that it had revealed another planet. This beauty is named HIP 116454b, and it is a “super Earth.” These planets are worlds that are stony bodies (like our own) that are simply huge. This one in individual is about 2.5 times larger than our home planet. It lies 180 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Pisces — which is close sufficient to be studied by other tools.
And the discovery made a few at NASA wax poetic. “Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been born-again and is continuing to make innovations. Even better, the planet it found is ripe for follow-up studies.” lead writer Andrew Vanderburg, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said in a speech.
HIP 116454b is approximately 20,000 miles wide (32,000 km) and is 12 times more enormous than Earth, researchers said. For assessment, Earth’s equatorial diameter is 7,926 miles (12,756 kilometres). The density of the alien world proposes that it is either mainly covered by water or is a “mini Neptune” with a huge, dense atmosphere. This means that it clearly would be a decent place for our kind of life.
Furthermore, HIP 116454b lies just 8.4 million miles from its host star (13.5 million km), an “orange dwarf” somewhat smaller and cooler than the sun, and finishes one revolution every 9.1 Earth-days. So this planet is actually uninhabitable for our kind of life. We all know how aggressive Mercury is, the neighbouring planet to our own Sun. But Mercury is 35.9 million miles from the Sun (57.9 million km). That’s 4 times away when compared to HIP.
Kepler is able to find planets by use of the “transit method,” which means that the little craft watches for the tell-tale dimming that is triggered when a planet crossed in front of its parent star (this overpass is known as a “transit”). In order to achieve this, Kepler needs to keep a stable eye on a very exact point, and this is a capability that the spacelab lost in 2013, when the second of its four orientation-maintaining response wheels failed.
Though, the Kepler team developed a way to rise Kepler’s steadiness by using the subtle pressure of sunlight, then recommended a new mission called K2, which would carry on Kepler’s exoplanet expedition in a limited fashion. But “limited” is a subjective term.
The Kepler mission presented us that planets bigger in size than Earth and smaller than Neptune are common in the galaxy, yet they are lacking in our solar system,” said Steve Howell, Kepler/K2 project researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California. “K2 is exclusively positioned to vividly refine our understanding of these alien worlds and further define the border among stony worlds like Earth and ice hulks like Neptune.”
Since the K2 mission formally began in May 2014, it has detected more than 35,000 stars and collected data on star clusters, thick star-forming areas, and several planetary objects within our own solar system. It is presently in its third operation.
The research paper writing this discovery has been acknowledged for publication in The Astrophysical Magazine.
This post was written by Usman Abrar. To contact the writer write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook