From Manu: “TRAPPIST-1h, exoplanet”

Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

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Astronomers confirm details of the lesser known orbital planet TRAPPIST-1

TRAPPIST-1h simulation turning around its star.

Scientists using Kepler space telescope NASA identified a regular pattern in the orbits of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system suspects confirmed details on its outermost orbit and least understood planet TRAPPIST-1h .

NASA/Kepler Telescope

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultracool dwarf, is orbited by seven Earth-size planets (NASA).

TRAPPIST-1 is only eight percent of the mass of our sun, so it is cooler and less luminous star, is defined as red dwarf of spectral class M. It is home to seven planets the size of Earth three of which orbit in the habitable zone of its star, the range of distances from a star where liquid water could be on the surface of a rocky planet. The system is located about 40 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius and is estimated to be between 3 billion and 8 billion years old.

The Spitzer Space Telescope NASA, TRAPPIST (Transiting Planets and planetesimals Small Telescope) (Small Telescope transiting planets and planetesimals) in Chile and other ground – based telescopes were used to detect and characterize the planets, but the collaboration was only an estimate for the period TRAPPIST-1h.

ESO Belgian robotic Trappist National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile interior

ESO Belgian robotic Trappist-South National Telescope at Cerro La Silla, Chile

Astronomers at the University of Washington have used data from the Kepler spacecraft to confirm that TRAPPIST-1h orbits its star every 19 days. Six million miles from her cold dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1h is beyond the outer edge of the habitable zone, and is likely to be too cold for life as we know it . The amount of energy (per unit area) that the planet receives from its star h is comparable to what the dwarf planet Ceres, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter receives from our sun.

“It’s incredibly exciting what we’re learning about this planetary system elsewhere, especially on the planet h, which had hardly any information so far,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Office of Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters Washington. “This finding is a great example of how the scientific community is unleashing the power of the complementary data from our different missions to do so fascinating discoveries.”

“I really liked that TRAPPIST-1h is exactly where our team predicted it to be. I had worried for a while we were seeing what we really wanted to see, after all, things are almost never exactly what you expect them to be in our field “said Rodrigo Luger, doctoral student at UW in Seattle and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Astronomy. “Nature often surprised at every step, but, in this case, the theory and observation matched perfectly”.

NASA/Spitzer Telescope

Orbital resonance – Harmony of Celestial Bodies.

Using the above data from Spitzer, the team recognized a mathematical pattern in the frequency with which each of the six inner planets orbits its star. This complex but predictable pattern, called orbital resonance occurs when planets exert a regular gravitational pull and newspaper each other as they orbit its star.

To understand the concept of resonance, consider Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa and Ganymede, which is the farthest of the three. For every time it orbits Jupiter Ganymede, Europa orbits twice and Io makes four trips around the globe. This resonance of 1: 2: 4 is stable and if a moon was pushed off course, self corrected and would be enclosed in a stable orbit. It is this harmonious influence among the seven brothers TRAPPIST-1 causes the system remains stable.

These relationships, Luger said, suggested that by studying the orbital velocities of neighboring planets, scientists could predict the exact orbital velocity, and therefore also the orbital period of the planet h, even before the observations of Kepler. The team calculated six possible periods of resonance for the planet h not harm the stability of the system, but only one was not ruled out additional data. The other five possibilities could have been observed in data from Spitzer and ground collected by the TRAPPIST equipment.

“All this,” Luger said, “it indicates that the orbital relationships were forged early in life TRAPPIST-1 system during the process of planet formation.”

“The resonant structure is not a coincidence, and points to an interesting dynamic history in which the planets probably migrated inward in the form of blockade,” Luger said. “This makes the system a great laboratory for planet formation and migration theories”.

Real-time web collaboration.

The Kepler spacecraft stared at the patch of sky home system TRAPPIST-1 December 15, 2016 to March 4 that collected data on tiny changes in the star in brightness due to planets passing as part of its second mission, K2. On March 8, raw and uncalibrated data to the scientific community were sent to initiate follow-up studies.

Work to confirm the orbital period TRAPPIST-1h began immediately and scientists from around the world took to social networks for real – time sharing new information collected about the behavior of the star and its planets breeding. Within two hours of the publication of the data, the team confirmed his prediction of an orbital period of 19 days.

“I Throw results of the data is always exciting, but it was a rare treat to see scientists from all over the world collaborating and sharing your progress in near real time on social networks to analyze the data and identify transits TRAPPIST-1h ” said Jessie Dotson, project scientist for the mission at K2 Ames Research Center NASA in Silicon Valley in California. “Creativity and convenience for which the data has been put into use has been a particularly exciting K2 approach focused on community aspect”.

Chain resonances seven planets TRAPPIST-1 established a record among the known planetary systems, the above being the Kepler-80 and Kepler-223 systems, each with four resonant planets.

The TRAPPIST-1 system was first discovered in 2016 by collaboration TRAPPIST, and it was thought that only had three planets at that time. additional planets with Spitzer and ground-based telescopes found. The Hubble Space Telescope NASA is following atmospheric observations, and James Webb Space Telescope will be able to probe potential atmospheres in more detail.

Ames manages Kepler and K2 missions for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA in Pasadena, California, managed the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. operates the flight system supported by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

For more information on K2 and Kepler missions, visit:
For more information about the TRAPPIST-1 system, visit:

Published in NASA on 22 May 2017.

See the full article here .

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