Thursday, July 24, 2014
Dr. David Kipping discovers exoplanet Kepler-421b – Discovery of Longest Transition orbit a Lucky Double 6 in a Game of Galactic Dice
“Finding Kepler-421b was a stroke of luck. The farther a planet is from its star, the less likely it is to transit the star from Earth's point of view. It has to line up just right”
Lead author from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr David Kipping, commenting on the discovery of exoplanet Kepler-421b orbiting the Red Dwarf Star Kepler-421 some 1,000 Light Years away in the Constellation Lyra
Remember our hope for Life on another planet with the discovery of exoplanet Kepler-186f orbiting an M dwarf Star Kepler-186 in the Constellation Cygnus as chronicled 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”?
Well, a team led by Lead author and Astronomer Dr. David Kipping of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts has discovered yet another exoplanet in the same region being scanned by the Kepler Space Telescope as reported in “Kepler-421b: Astronomers Discover Exoplanet with Longest Known Year”, published Jul 22, 2014 by Sci-News.com.
Dubbed Kepler-421b, it orbits the Red Dwarf Star Kepler-421 some 1,000 Light Years away in the Constellation Lyra every 704 Earth days or 1 Earth Year and 11 months, the longest measured transition orbit for an Exoplanet discovered thus far as stated in “Newfound Alien Planet Has Longest Year Known for Transiting World”, published July 22, 2014 07:01am ET By Mike Wall, Senior Writer, Space.com.
That’s what makes this latest discovery extraordinary! The exoplanet Kepler-421b is a Gas Giant the size of Uranus that has an orbital period of 704 Earth days or 1 Earth Year and 11 months as stated in “704 days: Exoplanet discovered with longest known year”, published July 24, 2014 8:25 a.m. EDT by Jolie Lee, USA TODAY..
With such a long period, I'm personally surprised that they discovered it at all, as the Kepler Space Telescope detects planetary orbits based on transitions in front of the star that causes a dip in the luminosity of that star. With such a long planetary period, exoplanet Kepler-421b caused only two (2) transition blips when the planet came between the Star and the Kepler Space Telescope.
Dr. David Kipping and exoplanet Kepler-421b – Lucky Double 6 in a Game of Galactic Dice
That's a very lucky chance indeed, as only a very patient team led by Lead author and Astronomer Dr. David Kipping combing through months and months of the Kepler Space Telescope data would have noticed these dips in the luminosity separated by 704 Earth days or 1 Earth Year and 11 months!
Even more impressive is that it's a Gas giant, given that the furthest distance of its elliptical orbit is some 100 million miles (160 million kilometers) or about 1.07 AU from Red Dwarf Star Kepler-421, hasn’t run away, being knocked out of orbit by planetary collisions or large asteroids.
At those distances, for that particular Solar System based on the Red Dwarf Star Kepler-421, exoplanet Kepler-421b is beyond the point where scientists expect to find Gas Giant Stars still orbiting their host star, to quote Astronomer Dr. David Kippin: “This is the first example of a potentially non-migrating gas giant in a transiting system that we've found”.
A good example of which was Gliese 832 c, located 16.1 Light years orbiting a Red Dwarf Star Gliese 832 in the Constellation Grus as declared in my blog article entitled “Dr. Robert Wittenmyer Team discovers Gliese 832 c – Supersize my Exoplanet Please with a Serving of Super-Venus”.
Still, with more and more discoveries being made from the Kepler Space Telescope Data during its downtime since 2009, nothing surprises me anymore as it's clearly a remarkeable find. Next time, though, I'd not mind if they could find an exoplanet that's got the potential for life.