Thursday, June 19, 2014
University of Montreal directly images exoplanet GU Psc b using Infrared - 100 Light Year Barrier no longer an issue as Infrared Tun Up
“GU b Psc is a true gift of nature. The great distance that separates it from its Star makes possible a thorough study with a variety of instruments, allowing a better understanding of giant exoplanets in general”
The Class M3 Star GU Psc is located roughly 115 million light years away in the AB Doradus Group in the Constellation Pisces. It also a fairly young Star, in its teenage years as far as Stars go, with an estimated age of 100 million years. It is only one of 90 Stars with a confirmed Planet. Based on its name, GU Psc b, it’s the first Planet from its main Star, which usually carries the designation “a”.
Co-author René Doyon said in the press release on the discovery of exoplanet GU Psc b which orbits the Class M3 Star GU Psc 115 Light years away in the Constellation Pisces
Scientists at the University of Montreal led by lead researcher Dr. Marie-Eve Naud have recently discovered that it is possible to see exoplanets directly beyond 100 Light years using Infrared.
This as they've discovered an exoplanet, GU Psc b, at a distance of 115 Light Years away and were able to see the Planet directly using Infrared as reported in “Unexpected Giant Exoplanet Discovered”, published May 23, 2014 by Lisa Winter, I Fucking Love Science and “ GU Psc b: Newly Discovered Exoplanet Takes 80,000 Years to Orbit its Star”, published May 14, 2014 by Sci-News.com. Their discovery was also published in The Astrophysical Journal and the image of exoplanet GU Psc b and its parent star Class M3 Star GU Psc is as shown below.
Most exoplanets, due to their extraordinary distance from Earth and the faint Light in both the Visible and Infrared Spectrum that they emit, are usually detected using the concept of Transitions. As a Planet passes in front of it host Star, it causes a slight dip in the luminosity of the Star. How often this dip occurs can be use to determine the period of the Star and the level of the dip in luminosity can also be used to determine the Size of the Planet.
This is the technique used by the Kepler Space Telescope to detect the exoplanet Kepler-186f which orbits the M dwarf Star Kepler-186 in the Constellation Cygnus as reported in my blog article entitled “NASA discovers Earth-like exoplanet Kepler-186f in the Constellation Cygnus - 500 light years is awfully far distance to buy beachfront property”.
However in the case of the exoplanet GU Psc b, which orbits the Class M3 Star GU Psc, its orbit is so large that it can be observed directly via the Electromagnetic Radiation that the Star gives off in the Infrared Spectrum.
Imaging exoplanet GU Psc b – 100 Light Year Barrier no longer an issue as the Infrared Tun Up
According to the measurements of the Researchers at the University of Montreal GU Psc b is between 9-13 times the size of Jupiter. It also has an elliptical orbit of 2000 AU (Astronomical Units) that resulted in the exoplanet having a revolution of 80,000 Earth years. At the time of observation, GU Psc b was fairly close to its Class M3 Star GU Psc.
By comparison, Neptune at about 4.5 Billion Kilometers from our Sun or 30 times farther away than the Earth is from the Sun, takes 165 years to complete a full revolution. So this exoplanet GU Psc b is a very super-massive Gas Giant Planet possibly with a rocky interior with a very large orbit and possibly with Surface temperatures possibly close to -273 Degrees Celsius, suggesting its surface may be covered in rivers of Liquid Hydrogen.
From this point onwards, the limit as to how far Telescopes can see into space has just been moved. No longer does the 100 Light Year Marker mean that an exoplanet directly. It also sets criteria for direct imaging at distances of 100 Light Years.
So how did they realize that they could image exoplanet GU Psc b?
According to lead researcher Dr. Marie-Eve Naud, it was thanks to a series of unfortunate events, quote: “The planets are much brighter when viewed in the infrared rather than visible light, because their surface temperature is lower than those of the Stars. This is what has identified GU Psc b”.
Despite being in the 100 Light Year Cutoff range than many Astronomers have from experience associated with an inability to observer non-luminous objects such as planets directly, they decided to take a chance. After all, with a 80,000 Earth Year Revolution, it would be far from its Class M3 Star GU Psc and thus the glare from that Star's surface wouldn't block direct observations in visible or Infrared Spectra.
Based on Infrared Spectra coming from the planet, despite being in the cold depths of Outer space, it is a nice and toasty 800 °C (1472 °F), twice the equatorial Temperatures on Mercury, which is a much cooler 427 °C (800 °F). With such a large orbit, lower sub-zero temperature should be the norm.
Since the Class M3 Star GU Psc is only 100 million Years Old, the planet may either still be cooling or at the time of observation it was on a path in its elliptical orbit that placed it very close to its parent Star.
This would mean that those rivers of liquid Hydrogen and Helium would have boiled off and formed a temporary Atmosphere rich in these Gases. These superheated gases at 800 °C (1472 °F) would rapidly swirl into massive Storms on scales more massive than those on Jupiter here in our Solar System.
Conclusions from exoplanet GU Psc b – Bigger Space and Ground based Telescopes Needed
Based on these findings by Dr. Marie-Eve Naud Team from the University of Montreal, it can be easily concluded that:
1. The Bigger the exoplanet, the easier it is to image directly
2. The Bigger the exoplanet’s Revolution, the further away it may be from its Sun, making direct imaging easier
3. Infrared, Gamma Ray and X-Ray Telescopes need to be designed to complement Kepler Space Telescope in order to directly image exoplanets
Hopefully, these results will also encourage NASA (National Aeronautical Space Administration) and other Countries with Space Programs to invest more heavily in Space Telescopes that have higher resolving power and more instruments that can image in X-Rays, Gamma Rays and also Infrared!