Tag Archives: exoplanets

Astronomers snap a picture of a head-scratching planet in a triple-star system

From Astronomy Magazine
HD 131399Ab is relatively young and farther from its parent star than any confirmed planet in our solar system.
The image of the HD 131399 system, with primary star A toward the top, the planet in the middle, and stars B and C in the lower right. The images were taken by the SPHERE instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope. ESO/K. Wagner et al.

There are plenty of weird planets in the Milky Way, but HD 131399Ab may be one of the weirdest.

Discovered in a survey of 100 young stars, the 16 million-year-old planet still glows hot enough for astronomers to image it directly. Somehow in those short few million years, it migrated out 80 astronomical units (AU; one AU is the average Earth-Sun distance) from its parent star.

But also accompanying the parent star, which is a little bit bigger than the Sun, are two companion stars in orbit around each other at a distance of 300 to 400 AU.

“In this case, this planet is much closer to the other stars in the system than any known exoplanets in a multi-star system,” says Kevin Robert Wagner, a graduate student at the University of Arizona and lead author of the discovery paper, published today in Science.


Long Range Sensors Detect…

What to look for in the night sky this week–if it ever stops raining.


Juno successfully enters orbit around Jupiter
After a 35 minute burn, the craft is now the second to orbit Jupiter.  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/07/juno-successfully-enters-orbit-around-jupiter
Exoplanet Found in Triple Star System

Astronomers have discovered a giant planet with an exceptionally wide orbit in a young system of three suns. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/exoplanet-found-in-triple-star-system-0707201623

Hubble gets five more years to dazzle us
NASA has renewed the Hubble Space Telescope’s operational contract until 2021. Here’s a timeline of its last 26 years.  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/07/hubble-gets-5-more-years-to-strut-its-stuff

JupiterHubble captures vivid aurorae in Jupiter’s atmosphere

This observation program is supported by measurements made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently on its way to Jupiter.  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/06/hubble-captures-vivid-aurorae-in-jupiters-atmosphere

NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

NASA’s Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date. READ ORIGINAL  DOCUMENT

“This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.”  ……

…Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. “…

…In the newly-validated batch of planets, nearly 550 could be rocky planets like Earth, based on their size. Nine of these orbit in their sun’s habitable zone, which is the distance from a star where orbiting planets can have surface temperatures that allow liquid water to pool. With the addition of these nine, 21 exoplanets now are known to be members of this exclusive group. …

Continue reading NASA’s Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

Long Range Sensors Detect…

  • Huge Sunspot
  • Kepler is stabilized

SOLAR MINIMUM, INTERRUPTED: The sun’s headlong plunge into solar minimum has been interrupted by the surprise emergence of a big sunspot.  AR2529 doubled in size over the weekend, and the behemoth spot is now being photographed by amateur astronomers around the world. On Saturday, Jean-Pierre Brahic of Uzès, France, took this picture of the swirling maelstrom of magnetic fields at the sunspot’s dark core:

As the inset image of Earth shows, the sunspot’s core is wide enough to swallow our planet–twice. Fortunately we are 93 million miles away.   READ MORE http://spaceweather.com/

KEPLER SPACECRAFT IS STABILIZED: You may have heard that the Kepler Spacecraft went into emergency mode. Fortunately, it’s back up, but won’t be asked to do much until scientists figure out what went wrong. It’s in orbit around the sun, so communication back & forth takes time–13 minutes.

Kepler is the spacecraft responsible for finding exoplanets, 1041 confirmed hits so far. More about Kepler and the exoplanets on its home page: http://kepler.nasa.gov/

Very Long Range Sensors: Astronomy


Robot looks up

  • Increasing Chance of Solar flares
  • Intensifying Cosmic Rays
  • Edge of Space Thanks
  • The 5 planets in pre-dawn sky
  • Hunting for Exoplanets at Proxima Centauri


From http://spaceweather.com/

INCREASING CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of an M-class flare today to 25%. The probable source would be sunspot AR2488, which has developed an unstable ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field with pent-up energy for strong explosions. Any M-flares today could produce minor shortwave radio blackouts.

INTENSIFYING COSMIC RAYS: For the past year, neutron monitors around the Arctic Circle have sensed an increasing intensity of cosmic rays. Polar latitudes are a good place to make such measurements, because Earth’s magnetic field funnels and concentrates cosmic radiation there. Turns out, Earth’s poles aren’t the only place cosmic rays are intensifying. Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching helium balloons to the stratosphere to measure radiation, and they find the same trend over California. Read more: http://spaceweather.com/

HEY, THANKS! The cosmic ray research of Earth to Sky Calculus is 100% crowd-funded. The latest flight on Jan. 24th was sponsored by ABC affiliate KOMO TV of Seattle, Washington. KOMO’s donation of $500 paid for all the supplies necessary to get the high-altitude balloon off the ground. To say “thanks”, we flew their logo to the edge of space.

THE GREAT NAKED-EYE PLANET SHOW: The mainstream media is buzzing with news about astronomy: From now until Feb. 20th, anyone who wakes up before sunrise can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter all at once, no telescope required. These are the five brightest planets, and they are a beautiful sight lined up from east to west in the predawn sky. Click for observing chart.

From Sky and Telescope:

Hunting for Planets Around Proxima Centauri
The Pale Red Dot Initiative has begun its search for exoplanets orbiting the nearest star to Earth besides the Sun. – See more