New York, November 29th: An international team of astronomers has identified 366 new exoplanets, using data from NASA’s Kpl Kepler Space Telescope mission K2.
The findings, described in an article published in the Astronomical Journal, showed a planetary system consisting of a star and at least two gas giant planets, each about the size of Saturn and located unusually close to each other. Superheated exoplanet WASP-76b receives hot liquid iron rain, finds new scientific study
The discovery is significant because it is rare to find gas giants – like Saturn in the solar system – as close to their host star as they were in this case.
The researchers still can’t explain why it happened there, but it makes the finding especially useful because it could help scientists form a more accurate understanding of the parameters for how planets and planetary systems evolve.
“The discovery of each new world gives a unique look at the physics that play a role in the formation of planets,” said lead author Jon Zink, a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA.
The findings could be a significant step in helping astronomers understand which types of stars are most likely to have planets orbiting them and what that indicates about the building blocks needed for successful planet formation, according to the study.
“We have to look at a wide range of stars, not just ones like our sun, to understand that,” Zink said.
The term “exoplanets” is used to describe planets outside the solar system. The number of exoplanets that have been identified by astronomers is less than 5,000 in total, so the identification of hundreds of new ones is significant progress.
Kepler’s original mission came to an unexpected end in 2013 when a mechanical failure left the spacecraft unable to accurately show the patch of sky it had observed for years. NASA Exoplanet Hunter Swings from the Moon, Click First Image
But astronomers have reused the telescope for a new mission known as K2, which aims to identify exoplanets near distant stars. K2 data helps scientists understand how the location of stars in the galaxy affects what planets are able to form around them.
(The above story first appeared in LastaLY on November 29, 2021 3:21 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).