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  • richardmitnick 9:17 am on September 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New ultra-hot Jupiter exoplanet discovered", , , Exoplanet research, Exoplanet TOI-1518b, ,   

    From Yale University (US) via phys.org : “New ultra-hot Jupiter exoplanet discovered” 

    From Yale University (US)



    Zoomed-in views of the primary transit (left) and secondary eclipse (right) of TOI-1518b. Credit: Cabot et al., 2021.

    An international team of astronomers has detected a new ultra-hot Jupiter extrasolar planet using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

    The newfound alien world is nearly two times larger than Jupiter and has a misaligned orbit. The finding is detailed in a paper published August 25 for The Astronomical Journal.

    The so-called “hot Jupiters” are similar in characteristics to the solar system’s biggest planet, but have orbital periods of less than 10 days. Such exoplanets have high surface temperatures, as they orbit their parent stars very closely.

    Now, a group of astronomers led by Samuel H. C. Cabot of Yale University reports the finding of a new exoplanet of this type, which turns out to have an ultra-high surface temperature. While observing a bright star designated TOI-1518 with TESS, a transit signal was identified in the light curve of this object. The planetary nature of this signal was confirmed by follow-up high-resolution observations with the EXPRES spectrograph at the Lowell Discovery Telescope.

    “We present the discovery of TOI-1518b—an ultra-hot Jupiter orbiting a bright star (V = 8.95). The transiting planet is confirmed using high-resolution optical transmission spectra from EXPRES,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

    TOI-1518b has a radius of about 1.875 Jupiter radii, while its mass is uncertain, estimated to not exceed 2.3 Jupiter masses. Future radial velocity monitoring of this system will put more constraints on its mass. The planet orbits its host every 1.9 days, at a distance of nearly 0.04 AU from it.

    The study found that TOI-1518b has an equilibrium temperature of 2,492 K and a measured dayside brightness temperature of 3,237 K, which suggests that it might exhibit a thermal inversion. However, further spectroscopic observations of this exoplanet are required in order to confirm this.

    According to the paper, TOI-1518b has a highly misaligned orbit—about 240.34 degrees. Trying to explain this finding, the astronomers noted that in general close-in gas giants around hot stars are commonly misaligned. The star TOI-1518 has an effective temperature of approximately 7,300 K, is about two times larger than the sun and its mass is estimated to be at a level of 1.79 solar masses.

    The research also detected iron (Fe) in the atmosphere of TOI-1518b. The team conducted an atmospheric cross-correlation analysis and found neutral iron. They underlined that so far there have been only a handful of previous detections of iron in ultra-hot Jupiters.

    “We searched for neutral and ionized Fe in the companion’s atmosphere through high-resolution transmission spectroscopy. (…) We detect neutral iron (5.2σ), at Kp = 157 km/s and Vsys = −16 km/s, adding another object to the small sample of highly irradiated gas-giant planets with Fe detections in transmission,” the scientists wrote.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Yale University (US) is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The Collegiate School was renamed Yale College in 1718 to honor the school’s largest private benefactor for the first century of its existence, Elihu Yale. Yale University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities and is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation.

    Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the Collegiate School was established in 1701 by clergy to educate Congregational ministers before moving to New Haven in 1716. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the college expanded into graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first PhD in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Yale’s faculty and student populations grew after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

    Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school’s faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the university owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forests and nature preserves throughout New England. As of June 2020, the university’s endowment was valued at $31.1 billion, the second largest of any educational institution. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League.

    As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists, four Abel Prize laureates, and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 31 living billionaires, and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many U.S. diplomats, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 252 Rhodes Scholars, 123 Marshall Scholars, and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university.


    Yale is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) (US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation (US), Yale spent $990 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 15th in the nation.

    Yale’s faculty include 61 members of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering (US) and 49 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (US). The college is, after normalization for institution size, the tenth-largest baccalaureate source of doctoral degree recipients in the United States, and the largest such source within the Ivy League.

    Yale’s English and Comparative Literature departments were part of the New Criticism movement. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty. Later, the Yale Comparative literature department became a center of American deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, taught at the Department of Comparative Literature from the late seventies to mid-1980s. Several other Yale faculty members were also associated with deconstruction, forming the so-called “Yale School”. These included Paul de Man who taught in the Departments of Comparative Literature and French, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman (both taught in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature), and Harold Bloom (English), whose theoretical position was always somewhat specific, and who ultimately took a very different path from the rest of this group. Yale’s history department has also originated important intellectual trends. Historians C. Vann Woodward and David Brion Davis are credited with beginning in the 1960s and 1970s an important stream of southern historians; likewise, David Montgomery, a labor historian, advised many of the current generation of labor historians in the country. Yale’s Music School and Department fostered the growth of Music Theory in the latter half of the 20th century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars.

    In addition to eminent faculty members, Yale research relies heavily on the presence of roughly 1200 Postdocs from various national and international origin working in the multiple laboratories in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools of the university. The university progressively recognized this working force with the recent creation of the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs and the Yale Postdoctoral Association.

    Notable alumni

    Over its history, Yale has produced many distinguished alumni in a variety of fields, ranging from the public to private sector. According to 2020 data, around 71% of undergraduates join the workforce, while the next largest majority of 16.6% go on to attend graduate or professional schools. Yale graduates have been recipients of 252 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Scholarships, 67 Truman Scholarships, 21 Churchill Scholarships, and 9 Mitchell Scholarships. The university is also the second largest producer of Fulbright Scholars, with a total of 1,199 in its history and has produced 89 MacArthur Fellows. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ranked Yale fifth among research institutions producing the most 2020–2021 Fulbright Scholars. Additionally, 31 living billionaires are Yale alumni.

    At Yale, one of the most popular undergraduate majors among Juniors and Seniors is political science, with many students going on to serve careers in government and politics. Former presidents who attended Yale for undergrad include William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush while former presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton attended Yale Law School. Former vice-president and influential antebellum era politician John C. Calhoun also graduated from Yale. Former world leaders include Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, German president Karl Carstens, Philippine president José Paciano Laurel, Latvian president Valdis Zatlers, Taiwanese premier Jiang Yi-huah, and Malawian president Peter Mutharika, among others. Prominent royals who graduated are Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and Olympia Bonaparte, Princess Napoléon.

    Yale alumni have had considerable presence in U.S. government in all three branches. On the U.S. Supreme Court, 19 justices have been Yale alumni, including current Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. Numerous Yale alumni have been U.S. Senators, including current Senators Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Sasse, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Current and former cabinet members include Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cyrus Vance, and Dean Acheson; U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Robert Rubin, Nicholas F. Brady, Steven Mnuchin, and Janet Yellen; U.S. Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach, John Ashcroft, and Edward H. Levi; and many others. Peace Corps founder and American diplomat Sargent Shriver and public official and urban planner Robert Moses are Yale alumni.

    Yale has produced numerous award-winning authors and influential writers, like Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Sinclair Lewis and Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Vincent Benét, Thornton Wilder, Doug Wright, and David McCullough. Academy Award winning actors, actresses, and directors include Jodie Foster, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Elia Kazan, George Roy Hill, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, and Frances McDormand. Alumni from Yale have also made notable contributions to both music and the arts. Leading American composer from the 20th century Charles Ives, Broadway composer Cole Porter, Grammy award winner David Lang, and award-winning jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer all hail from Yale. Hugo Boss Prize winner Matthew Barney, famed American sculptor Richard Serra, President Barack Obama presidential portrait painter Kehinde Wiley, MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Sarah Sze, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, and National Medal of Arts photorealist painter Chuck Close all graduated from Yale. Additional alumni include architect and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Maya Lin, Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster, and Gateway Arch designer Eero Saarinen. Journalists and pundits include Dick Cavett, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Fareed Zakaria.

    In business, Yale has had numerous alumni and former students go on to become founders of influential business, like William Boeing (Boeing, United Airlines), Briton Hadden and Henry Luce (Time Magazine), Stephen A. Schwarzman (Blackstone Group), Frederick W. Smith (FedEx), Juan Trippe (Pan Am), Harold Stanley (Morgan Stanley), Bing Gordon (Electronic Arts), and Ben Silbermann (Pinterest). Other business people from Yale include former chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Edward Lampert, former Time Warner president Jeffrey Bewkes, former PepsiCo chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi, sports agent Donald Dell, and investor/philanthropist Sir John Templeton,

    Yale alumni distinguished in academia include literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, economists Irving Fischer, Mahbub ul Haq, and Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman; Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Ernest Lawrence and Murray Gell-Mann; Fields Medalist John G. Thompson; Human Genome Project leader and National Institutes of Health (US) director Francis S. Collins; brain surgery pioneer Harvey Cushing; pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper; influential mathematician and chemist Josiah Willard Gibbs; National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee and biochemist Florence B. Seibert; Turing Award recipient Ron Rivest; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate John B. Goodenough; lexicographer Noah Webster; and theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr.

    In the sporting arena, Yale alumni include baseball players Ron Darling and Craig Breslow and baseball executives Theo Epstein and George Weiss; football players Calvin Hill, Gary Fenick, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and “the Father of American Football” Walter Camp; ice hockey players Chris Higgins and Olympian Helen Resor; Olympic figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nathan Chen; nine-time U.S. Squash men’s champion Julian Illingworth; Olympic swimmer Don Schollander; Olympic rowers Josh West and Rusty Wailes; Olympic sailor Stuart McNay; Olympic runner Frank Shorter; and others.

  • richardmitnick 8:34 am on August 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Like Star like Planet", Exoplanet research, ,   

    From University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH): “Like Star like Planet” 

    From University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH)

    24 Aug 2021

    Ravit Helled
    Center for Theoretical Astrophysics & Cosmology.
    Institute for Computational Science, University of Zürich.
    Winterthurerstr. 190 CH-8057 Zürich Switzerland
    Irchel Campus, Y11, F84

    Arian Bastani

    One of the patterns emerging from the thousands of exoplanets that astronomers have discovered to date, is that the larger planets often orbit more massive stars. The reason behind it was unknown. A new study led by scientists at the University of Zürich, and members associated with the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS offers an answer to this cosmic mystery.

    The largest planet in our solar system: Jupiter photographed by NASA’s Juno and Cassini spacecraft. Image: Kevin Gill/Maksim Kakitsev/NASA/JPL-Caltech (US)/Southwest Research Institute (US)/Malin Space Science Systems(US).

    Tall people often have tall parents. Short people usually do not. What generations of humans had observed was finally explained by genetics: children inherit their parents’ genes and therefore share many of their traits. In some ways, stars and planets have similar relationships as parents and their children. For example, stars are older than their planets, they are larger and control much of what happens to the planets they host. Often, the star that a planet orbits is referred to as its “mother star”. But how much is there to this analogy? Do stars “pass on” some of their characteristics to the planets that orbit them – like, for example, their size? Researchers at the University of Zürich found that there is at least some truth to it, as their results published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics suggest.

    A cosmic puzzle

    “Over the last years, astronomers have found that more massive stars tend to host larger planets,” Michael Lozovsky, first author of the study, former doctoral researcher at the University of Zürich and associated with the NCCR PlanetS begins to explain. “While this seems intuitive at first glance, the reason behind it is not obvious and there haven’t been any rigorous attempts to explain it,” Lozovsky points out.

    Unlike children, however, planets are not “born” by their star. Instead, they form from the same cosmic gas and dust. They do so with some delay – the stars begin to form earlier – but the star is often not mature while the planets begin to arise. A form of “heritage”, as in humans, is therefore not the reason that massive stars host larger planets.

    But the following three theories that Lozovsky and his colleagues formulated could explain the pattern:

    Planets around more massive stars are hotter: larger stars are hotter and emit more energy than smaller stars. This heats up their surrounding planets more strongly and as the planets get hotter, they inflate and become larger.

    Planets around more massive stars are more massive: since the size of a planet increases with mass, it could be that stars that are more massive host larger planets simply because the planets themselves are also more massive.

    Planets around more massive stars have lighter atmospheres: the atmosphere surrounding the planet can also be an important factor for its size. If larger stars tend to host planets with atmospheres consisting of light gases such as hydrogen and helium, this could also explain their larger size and the observed pattern.

    Light gases make large planets

    Using National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) databases, the team first looked at the available information on thousands of planets. Like for example temperature and size. “If larger planets were indeed hotter it would have been visible in the data. However, what we found was the opposite: hotter planets are sometimes even smaller, possibly because the strong stellar radiation evaporates some of their atmosphere,” Lozovsky says.

    Testing the other two theories required more than statistics. “Using dedicated computer models, we simulated how planet sizes would change when their mass increased”, Lozovsky explains. What the team found, is that planets don’t become significantly larger for a given added mass but that they rather become denser instead. Therefore, the researchers also rejected this explanation and were left with the third theory, stating that the planets’ larger size comes from higher shares of light gases. “This time we found a clear signal – varying the planets’ compositions had a large effect on their size and could therefore explain the observed relationship to star mass. This also tells us that larger stars tend to host planets with more massive atmospheres,” Lozovsky reports.

    “The results not only help us estimate which kinds of planets likely orbit a certain star, but could also help us fill gaps in our understanding of planet formation,” co-author, NCCR PlanetS member and professor of computational astronomy at the University of Zurich, Ravit Helled points out. Based on their findings, the researchers conclude that planets around larger stars tend to collect gases more quickly during their formation. This is important, because the gas and dust from which the planets form, begins to evaporate as the star grows and radiates more strongly. Thus, the planets only have limited time to grow and acquire what they need for their later existence – perhaps not entirely unlike children, who are expected to stand on their own feet eventually.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Zürich (Universität Zürich) (CH), located in the city of Zürich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 26,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy.

    Currently, the university has seven faculties: Philosophy, Human Medicine, Economic Sciences, Law, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Theology and Veterinary Medicine. The university offers the widest range of subjects and courses of any Swiss higher education institutions.
    Since 1833

    As a member of the League of European Research Universities (EU) (LERU) and Universitas 21 (U21) network, the University of Zürich belongs to Europe’s most prestigious research institutions. In 2017, the University of Zürich became a member of the Universitas 21 (U21) network, a global network of 27 research universities from around the world, promoting research collaboration and exchange of knowledge.

    Numerous distinctions highlight the University’s international renown in the fields of medicine, immunology, genetics, neuroscience and structural biology as well as in economics. To date, the Nobel Prize has been conferred on twelve UZH scholars.

    Sharing Knowledge

    The academic excellence of the University of Zürich brings benefits to both the public and the private sectors not only in the Canton of Zürich, but throughout Switzerland. Knowledge is shared in a variety of ways: in addition to granting the general public access to its twelve museums and many of its libraries, the University makes findings from cutting-edge research available to the public in accessible and engaging lecture series and panel discussions.

    1. Identity of the University of Zürich


    The University of Zürich (UZH) is an institution with a strong commitment to the free and open pursuit of scholarship.

    Scholarship is the acquisition, the advancement and the dissemination of knowledge in a methodological and critical manner.

    Academic freedom and responsibility

    To flourish, scholarship must be free from external influences, constraints and ideological pressures. The University of Zürich is committed to unrestricted freedom in research and teaching.

    Academic freedom calls for a high degree of responsibility, including reflection on the ethical implications of research activities for humans, animals and the environment.


    Work in all disciplines at the University is based on a scholarly inquiry into the realities of our world

    As Switzerland’s largest university, the University of Zürich promotes wide diversity in both scholarship and in the fields of study offered. The University fosters free dialogue, respects the individual characteristics of the disciplines, and advances interdisciplinary work.

    2. The University of Zurich’s goals and responsibilities

    Basic principles

    UZH pursues scholarly research and teaching, and provides services for the benefit of the public.

    UZH has successfully positioned itself among the world’s foremost universities. The University attracts the best researchers and students, and promotes junior scholars at all levels of their academic career.

    UZH sets priorities in research and teaching by considering academic requirements and the needs of society. These priorities presuppose basic research and interdisciplinary methods.

    UZH strives to uphold the highest quality in all its activities.
    To secure and improve quality, the University regularly monitors and evaluates its performance.


    UZH contributes to the increase of knowledge through the pursuit of cutting-edge research.

    UZH is primarily a research institution. As such, it enables and expects its members to conduct research, and supports them in doing so.

    While basic research is the core focus at UZH, the University also pursues applied research.

  • richardmitnick 4:29 pm on July 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Pileup of Perpendicular Planets", , , , , Exoplanet research, ,   

    From Aarhus University [Aarhus Universitet] (DK) via Sky & Telescope : “A Pileup of Perpendicular Planets” 

    From Aarhus University [Aarhus Universitet] (DK)


    Sky & Telescope

    July 27, 2021
    Susanna Kohler, AAS NOVA

    In some planetary systems, the direction that a star spins and the direction its planets orbit don’t always line up. A new study explores what we can learn from these nonconformists.

    Artist’s illustration of WASP-79b, an example of an exoplanet that circles its star on a polar orbit.
    Credit: B. Addison/ European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte] (EU) (CL).

    Nature Is Trending

    Much of science involves searching for patterns and trends in data. Patterns in the universe — preferences for certain shapes, locations, alignments, etc. — can often reveal hidden underlying physics that drives nature to take a non-random course. This means that patterns and trends frequently provide the key to understanding how the universe works.

    Exoplanet populations are an especially intriguing place to look for trends. In recent years, our sample of observed exoplanets has grown large enough that we can now start to do useful statistical analysis — and there’s a lot we can hope to learn from this about the formation and evolution of planetary systems.

    A protostar lies embedded in a disk of gas and dust in this visualization. Since stars and their planets form from the same cloud, it would make sense for their rotations to be aligned. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (US).

    One particular curiosity among exoplanets: a planet’s orbital direction is not always aligned with its host star’s spin direction. Since a star and its planets all form out of the same rotating cloud of gas and dust, conservation of angular momentum should produce planet orbits and stellar spins that are aligned. But, while we see a large population of well-aligned systems, we also see a smaller population of misaligned systems.

    What causes planets to become misaligned with their stars? A new study [The Astrophysical Journal Letters] led by Simon Albrecht (Aarhus University [Aarhus Universitet] (DK)) examines patterns in a population of observed star–planet systems to find out.

    Diagram illustrating the angle between the sky-projected stellar spin and planetary orbit (λ) and the actual 3D angle between the spin and orbit (Ψ). The tilt of the star relative to the observer line of sight is marked by i. Credit: Albrecht et al. 2021.

    Albrecht and collaborators explored a valuable sample of 57 star–planet systems. For the majority of planetary systems with observed spin/orbital directions, we can only measure the angle between the sky-projected orbital and spin axes. But for the sample that Albrecht and collaborators used, we have independent measurements of the inclination angle of the star relative to our line of sight. Thus, for these 57 systems, the authors were able to identify the actual angle in 3D space between the planets’ orbital axes and the stars’ spin axes.

    The result? Albrecht and collaborators find that the majority of the systems are aligned, as expected. But the 19 misaligned systems do not have misalignments that are distributed randomly through all angles. Instead, almost all of the misalignments cluster around 90° (ranging from 80°–125°) — meaning that the planet orbits the poles of the star, perpendicular to the direction that the star spins.

    Left: The angle between the sky-projected orbital and spin axes (λ) for the authors’ sample. Right: The actual angle between the axes (Ψ). The actual angles show two clusterings: one near zero (aligned), and one around 90° (perpendicular). Adapted from Albrecht et al. 2021

    What could cause this polar pileup? The authors propose several theoretical possibilities that include dynamical interactions between the planet and the star, or between the planet and an additional unseen, distant companion body. But, as we’ve seen, nature has a mind of its own — and there may be multiple mechanisms at work! We don’t yet have enough information to solve this puzzle with certainty, but a continued search for patterns is sure to point us in the right direction eventually.

    This work was accomplished with National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) TESS


    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) TESS

    Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Center for Astrophysics – Harvard and Smithsonian; MIT Lincoln Laboratory; and the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute (US) in Baltimore.


    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Aarhus Universitet DK campus.

    Aarhus University [Aarhus Universitet] (DK), abbreviated AU) is the largest and second oldest research university in Denmark. The university belongs to the Coimbra Group, the Guild, and Utrecht Network of European universities and is a member of the European University Association.

    The university was founded in Aarhus, Denmark, in 1928 and comprises five faculties in Arts, Natural Sciences, Technical Sciences, Health, and Business and Social Sciences and has a total of twenty-seven departments. It is home to over thirty internationally recognised research centres, including fifteen Centres of Excellence funded by the Danish National Research Foundation. The university is ranked among the top 100 world’s best universities. The business school within Aarhus University, called Aarhus BSS, holds the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) Equis accreditation, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). This makes the business school of Aarhus University one of the few in the world to hold the so-called Triple Crown accreditation. Times Higher Education ranks Aarhus University in the top 10 of the most beautiful universities in Europe (2018).

    The university’s alumni include Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of programming language C++, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark and a Secretary General of NATO.

    Nobel Laureate Jens Christian Skou (Chemistry, 1997), conducted his groundbreaking work on the Na/K-ATPase in Aarhus and remained employed at the university until his retirement. Two other nobel laureates: Trygve Haavelmo (Economics, 1989) and Dale T. Mortensen (Economics, 2010). were affiliated with the university.

  • richardmitnick 7:30 pm on July 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Massive COCONUTS exoplanet discovery led by UH grad student", , , , , Exoplanet research, The new planet is in fact gravitationally bound to a low-mass star COCONUTS-2A., The new planetary system COCONUTS-2 and the new planet COCONUTS-2b,   

    From U Hawai’i at Manoa (US) : “Massive COCONUTS exoplanet discovery led by UH grad student” 

    From U Hawai’i at Manoa (US)

    July 27, 2021

    Illustration of the COCONUTS-2 planetary system, with the gas-giant planet COCONUTS-2b in the foreground. Credit: B. Bays (U Hawai’i School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (US).

    Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets—planets beyond our solar system—but few have been directly imaged, because they are extremely difficult to see with existing telescopes. An Institute for Astronomy U Hawaii (US) graduate student has beaten the odds and discovered a directly imaged exoplanet, and it’s the closest one to Earth ever found, at a distance of only 35 light years.

    Using the COol Companions ON Ultrawide orbiTS (COCONUTS) survey, IfA graduate student Zhoujian Zhang and a team of astronomers, Michael Liu and Zach Claytor (IfA), William Best (University of Texas-Austin (US)), Trent Dupuy (University of Edinburgh (SCT)) and Robert Siverd (Gemini Observatory/NSF NOIRLab (US)) identified a planet about six times the mass of Jupiter. The team’s research, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, led to the discovery of the low-temperature gas-giant planet orbiting a low-mass red dwarf star, about 6,000 times farther than the Earth orbits the Sun. They dubbed the new planetary system COCONUTS-2 and the new planet COCONUTS-2b.

    “With a massive planet on a super-wide-separation orbit, and with a very cool central star, COCONUTS-2 represents a very different planetary system than our own solar system,” Zhang explained. The COCONUTS survey has been the focus of his recently completed PhD thesis, aiming to find wide-separation companions around stars of all different types close to Earth.

    Trapped heat helps detect planet

    COCONUTS-2b is the second-coldest imaged exoplanet found to date, with a temperature of just 320 degrees Fahrenheit, which is slightly cooler than most ovens use to bake cookies. The planet can be directly imaged thanks to emitted light produced by residual heat trapped since the planet’s formation. Still, the energy output of the planet is more than a million times weaker than the Sun’s, so the planet can only be detected using lower-energy infrared light.

    “Directly detecting and studying the light from gas-giant planets around other stars is ordinarily very difficult, since the planets we find usually have small-separation orbits and thus are buried in the glare of their host star’s light,” said Liu, Zhang’s thesis advisor. “With its huge orbital separation, COCONUTS-2b will be a great laboratory for studying the atmosphere and composition of a young gas-giant planet.”

    The planet was first detected in 2011 by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite, but it was believed to be a free-floating object, not orbiting a star.

    Zhang and his collaborators discovered that it is in fact gravitationally bound to a low-mass star, COCONUTS-2A, which is about one-third the mass of the Sun, and about 10 times younger.

    Darkness prevails

    Due to its wide-separation orbit and cool host star, COCONUTS-2b’s skies would look dramatically different to an observer there compared to the skies on Earth. Nighttime and daytime would look basically the same, with the host star appearing as a bright red star in the dark sky.

    Zhang’s discovery has fueled his desire to continue to explore exoplanets, brown dwarfs, and stars. The aspiring astronomer graduated from IfA this summer and will begin his postdoctoral research in fall 2021, with IfA alumnus Brendan Bowler, an astronomy professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Hawaii 2.2 meter telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawai’I (US)

    The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth.

    The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes near the summit of Maunakea on the island of Hawai’i feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrographs and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems.

    System Overview

    The University of Hawai‘i includes 10 campuses and dozens of educational, training and research centers across the Hawaiian Islands. As the public system of higher education in Hawai‘i, UH offers opportunities as unique and diverse as our Island home.

    The 10 UH campuses and educational centers on six Hawaiian Islands provide unique opportunities for both learning and recreation.

    UH is the State’s leading engine for economic growth and diversification, stimulating the local economy with jobs, research and skilled workers.

    The University of Hawaiʻi system, formally the University of Hawaiʻi is a public college and university system that confers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment training center, three university centers, four education centers and various other research facilities distributed across six islands throughout the state of Hawaii in the United States. All schools of the University of Hawaiʻi system are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The U.H. system’s main administrative offices are located on the property of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu CDP.

    The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is the flagship institution of the University of Hawaiʻi system. It was founded as a land-grant college under the terms of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. Programs include Hawaiian/Pacific Studies, Astronomy, East Asian Languages and Literature, Asian Studies, Comparative Philosophy, Marine Science, Second Language Studies, along with Botany, Engineering, Ethnomusicology, Geophysics, Law, Business, Linguistics, Mathematics, and Medicine. The second-largest institution is the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on the “Big Island” of Hawaiʻi, with over 3,000 students. The University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu in Kapolei primarily serves students who reside in Honolulu’s western and central suburban communities. The University of Hawaiʻi Community College system comprises four community colleges island campuses on O’ahu and one each on Maui, Kauaʻi, and Hawaiʻi. The schools were created to improve accessibility of courses to more Hawaiʻi residents and provide an affordable means of easing the transition from secondary school/high school to college for many students. University of Hawaiʻi education centers are located in more remote areas of the State and its several islands, supporting rural communities via distance education.

    Research facilities

    Center for Philippine Studies
    Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi
    East-West Center
    Haleakalā Observatory
    Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute
    Institute for Astronomy
    Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
    Institute of Marine Biology
    Lyon Arboretum
    Mauna Kea Observatory
    W. M. Keck Observatory
    Waikīkī Aquarium

  • richardmitnick 11:06 am on July 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Oddballs of the Exoplanet Realm", Astronomers have added more than 4000 confirmed exoplanets to the list., , , , , , Exoplanet research, The list of planets in other star systems includes zombies; hot giants; puffballs; and even a few Tatooines. Zowie!   

    From Eos: “Oddballs of the Exoplanet Realm” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    26 July 2021
    Damond Benningfield

    The list of planets in other star systems includes zombies; hot giants; puffballs; and even a few Tatooines. Zowie!

    Swirling clouds highlight the atmosphere of a gas giant exoplanet in this artist’s concept. Credit: National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/G. Bacon (Space Telescope Science Institute (US))

    If exoplanets were comic book characters, the first few ever confirmed would have been greeted with cries of “Zounds!” or “Zowie!” or even “Gadzooks!” Not only were these worlds unlike anything in our own solar system, but they were unlike anything scientists had even pondered. The first two were chunks of rock orbiting a pulsar, the remnant of an exploded star. The next one was a gas giant orbiting at just a fraction of the distance between the Sun and Mercury—so close that the planet’s outer atmosphere was heated to more than 1,500°C.

    Astronomers have since added more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets to the list (although the exact number depends on which list you check). Thousands more await verification.

    Most of those worlds fit into a few major categories, some of which are alien to our own neighborhood. According to NASA’s exoplanet catalog, for example, there are more than 1,300 super-Earths, which are pretty much what they sound like—rocky planets a few times the size of Earth. Hundreds more are mini-Neptunes, which are bigger than super-Earths but smaller than Neptune, the Sun’s most distant major planet.

    Some exoplanets don’t fit into the major categories, though. They are the oddballs. And like many oddballs, they can be more interesting than the conformists.

    The first two confirmed exoplanets, discovered 3 decades ago, remain among the oddest and rarest of all: “zombie” planets that probably were born after their star died. Both orbit the pulsar PSR B1257+12. A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, the corpse of a massive star that exploded as a supernova.

    As the neutron star spins, it emits pulses of energy that form an extremely accurate clock—and provide clues for exoplanet hunters.

    The tug of an orbiting object alters the timing of the pulses a tiny bit, revealing a planet’s presence.

    Astronomers have discovered a handful of other pulsar planets (including a third for PSR B1257+12). Pulsar timing is so precise that it can reveal orbiting objects as small as asteroids, so the dearth of discoveries suggests that pulsar planets are rare.

    It’s unlikely that planets could survive a supernova, so astronomers say these must be “second-chance” planets. They may have formed from debris from a pulsar’s destroyed companion star, such as a white dwarf. “If the star is in a binary with a low-mass star or a compact companion, the pulsar irradiates the companion and the companion evaporates,” said Rebecca Martin of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (US). “This can lead to a runaway effect where the companion is dynamically disrupted and forms a disk around the neutron star. Planets may form from this disk.”

    Hot Jupiters

    The first exoplanet found orbiting a star in the prime of life, similar to the Sun, was just as shocking as the pulsar planets (and earned its discoverers a share of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics). Exoplanet 51 Pegasi b is roughly half the mass of Jupiter, the giant of our solar system, yet is close enough to its star that it orbits in just 4 days (compared to 12 years for Jupiter). That makes the planet extremely hot.

    And 51 Pegasi b is not even the most extreme “hot Jupiter.” Of the few hundred known examples, some are many times Jupiter’s mass, one orbits its planet in just 18 hours, and some are being blasted by so much stellar radiation that their atmospheres are eroding into space. And although 51 Pegasi b was a true oddball when it was discovered, the roster of hot Jupiters has grown so large that these worlds form a category all their own. (A swelter of hot Jupiters, perhaps?)

    Such worlds are hard to explain. Close to a star, temperatures should be too high, and stellar winds should be too strong to allow a planetary core to sweep up enough hydrogen and helium to grow that big.

    Most astronomers have hypothesized that hot Jupiters formed farther out in their solar systems and migrated inward. As often happens in comics, though, one character can disrupt the entire narrative. HIP 67522 b, which orbits once every 7 days, belongs to a star that’s only about 17 million years old—hundreds of millions of years younger than most hot-Jupiter hosts. It seems unlikely that the planet could have formed far from the star and then migrated so close in such a short period of time. So scientists may have to go back to the drawing board to explain at least some hot Jupiters.

    Cotton Candy Planets

    The star Kepler-51 hosts three planets, all of which are oddballs. They are a few times the mass of Earth but roughly as big as Jupiter. That makes them not much denser than cotton candy. The Kepler-51 worlds are among a dozen or so confirmed “super-puff” planets.

    Although some hot Jupiters have been puffed up by the heat from their nearby stars, super-puffs are much cooler, noted Jessica Libby-Roberts, a graduate student completing her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado Boulder. That temperature difference means the super-puffs must be inflated by some other mechanism.

    Despite their great size, the planets of Kepler-51 are lightweight, so they are roughly as dense as cotton candy. Credit: NASA/ESA/L. Hustak/J. Olmsted (STScI).

    Kepler-51 is a relatively young star, so its planets could be puffed up by the internal heat left over from their formation, Roberts said. Other super-puffs could have formed in “a really weird” region of the disk around the star where they could grab a lot of gas in a hurry. However, super-puffs might not be especially puffy at all. Instead, high haze layers or wide bands of rings might make them appear much larger than they really are.

    Except for the planets of Kepler-51, most known super-puffs are the most distant members of multiplanet systems, Roberts said. If they really are puffy, then “either super-puffs need to form really far from their stars before migrating inwards, or they need to end up at a distance far enough from their stars to hold on to all that hydrogen-helium atmosphere, or a combination of both,” Roberts said. “There is still a lot to be done in this area.”

    Wrong-Way Planets

    An artist’s concept depicts the retrograde orbit of planet WASP-8 b. Credit: L. Calçada/European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte] (EU) (CL).

    Some exoplanets fit into more than one “oddball” category. WASP-17 b, for example, is a super-puff. It’s half as massive as Jupiter but twice as wide, making it one of the largest and cotton-candiest planets yet discovered. It’s also a “wrong-way” exoplanet, orbiting in the opposite direction from its star’s rotation on its axis—one of only a handful of such planets yet seen.

    Scientists suggest that WASP-17 b (and other retrograde planets) could have performed an about-face as the result of the gravitational influence of another planet­, through either a single especially close encounter or a more gradual long-range nudge.

    Seeing Double

    If planet hunters could visit any fictional world of their choosing, there might be a mad dash for Tatooine, the home world of Luke Skywalker. The first Star Wars movie featured an iconic view of Luke watching twin suns set over the desert. Today, any planet found to orbit both members of a binary star is instantly compared to that famous world.

    Twin suns set on a Tatooine-like world, which orbits both members of a binary star, in this artist’s concept. Credit: S. Dagnello/National Radio Astronomy Observatory (US)/Associated Universities Inc (US)/National Science Foundation (US).

    Although quite a few planets are known to orbit one member of a binary, circumbinary planets are about as common as stormtroopers who can shoot straight—astronomers have cataloged roughly a score of them. (One of them, Kepler-64 b, orbits one binary in a two-binary system, giving it four stars).

    The known circumbinaries should remain in stable orbits for “at least 100 million years,” according to Jerome Orosz of San Diego State University (US). Some of the planets even lie within their host stars’ habitable zone, where conditions are most comfortable for life. “It’s obviously more complicated than the habitable zone for a single star,” Orosz said. “In particular, the habitable zone around a binary star moves as the two stars orbit….Keep in mind that the known circumbinary planets are gaseous, with diameters in the range of Neptune’s to Jupiter’s. Those planets probably won’t be habitable. There are no Earth-like planets known to be in circumbinary systems.”

    The search for Tatooines in other systems continues, however—perhaps leading to more zowies or zounds in the years ahead.

    See the full article here .


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    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

  • richardmitnick 8:54 pm on July 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Exoplanet research, Leiden Observatory [Sterrewacht Leiden](NL), MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie](DE), The gaseous giant planet TYC 8998-760-1 b at a distance of 300 light-years in the constellation Musca (Fly)., The planet is relatively rich in carbon-13.   

    From MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie] (DE) : “A potential new tracer of exoplanet formation” 

    Max Planck Institut für Astronomie (DE)

    From MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie] (DE)

    July 14, 2021

    Dr. Markus Nielbock
    Press and public relations officer
    +49 6221 528-134
    MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie](DE), Heidelberg

    Dr. Paul Mollière
    MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie](DE), Heidelberg

    Prof. Dr. Ignas A. G. Snellen
    +31 71 527-5838
    Leiden Observatory [Sterrewacht Leiden](NL)

    First measurement of isotopes in the atmosphere of an exoplanet.

    An international team of astronomers, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, have become the first in the world to detect isotopes in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It concerns different forms of carbon in the gaseous giant planet TYC 8998-760-1 b at a distance of 300 light-years in the constellation Musca (Fly). The weak signal was measured with ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and seems to indicate that the planet is relatively rich in carbon-13.

    The astronomers hypothesize that this is because the planet formed at a great distance from its parent star. The research will appear in the scientific journal Nature.

    TYC 8998-760-1. Credit: National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    Isotopes are different forms of the same atom but with a varying number of neutrons in the nucleus. For example, carbon with six protons typically has six neutrons (carbon-12), but occasionally seven (carbon-13) or eight (carbon-14). This property does not change much the chemical properties of carbon. Still, isotopes form in different ways and often react slightly differently to the prevailing conditions. Isotopes, therefore, provide applications in a wide range of research fields: from detecting cardiovascular disease or cancer to studying climate change and determining the age of fossils and rocks.

    Astronomers from several countries, among them Paul Mollière from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, Germany, discovered an unusual ratio between those isotopes in the atmosphere of the young giant planet TYC 8998-760-1 b. Carbon is present primarily in the form of CO (carbon monoxide) gas. The planet itself exhibits a mass of about 14 Jupiter masses and has almost twice the size of Jupiter. Therefore, astronomers classify it as a super-Jupiter.

    The group of scientists, led by first author Yapeng Zhang, a PhD student at Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, successfully distinguished carbon-13 from carbon-12 because it absorbs radiation at slightly different colours. “It is really quite special that we can measure this in an exoplanet atmosphere, at such a large distance,” says Zhang. The astronomers had expected to detect about one in 70 carbon atoms to be carbon-13, but it seems to be twice as much for this planet. The idea is that the higher abundance of carbon-13 is somehow related to the formation of the exoplanet.

    Mollière explains: “The planet is more than one hundred and fifty times farther away from its parent star than our Earth is from our Sun. At such a great distance, ices have possibly formed with more carbon-13, causing the higher fraction of this isotope in the planet’s atmosphere today.” Suppose the enrichment in carbon-13 is connected to the freeze-out of CO in the planet-forming protoplanetary disks. In that case, this could mean that Solar System planets did not collect much carbon-13-rich ice. A reason may be that in the Solar System, the distance beyond which CO begins to freeze out of the gas phase, known as the CO snowline, lies beyond Neptune’s orbit. Therefore, CO ices have likely rarely been incorporated into the Solar System planets, leading to a higher isotope ratio. Mollière wrote the data analysis software and contributed to interpreting the results.

    The exoplanet itself, TYC 8998-760-1 b, was discovered only two years ago by Leiden PhD student Alexander Bohn, co-author of the article. He adds: “It’s awesome that this discovery has been made close to ‘my’ planet. It will probably be the first of many.”

    Ignas Snellen, professor in Leiden and the driving force behind this subject for many years, is above all proud. “The expectation is that in the future, isotopes will further help to understand exactly how, where and when planets form. This result is just the beginning.”

    Besides Paul Mollière fom MPIA, the following scientists contributed to the results featured in the paper: Yapeng Zhang, Ignas A. G. Snellen, Alexander J. Bohn, Matthew A. Kenworthy, Frans Snik (all Leiden Observatory), Christian Ginski (Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam [Universiteit van Amsterdam] (NL)), H. Jens Hoeijmakers (Geneva Observatory [Observatoire de Genève] (CH)) and Lund Observatory [Lundobservatoriet] (SE) ), Eric E. Mamajek (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (US) and University of Rochester (US)), Tiffany Meshkat (Caltech IPAC-Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (US)), Maddalena Reggiani (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven [Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven] (BE))

    See the full article here .


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    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelburg, GE

    The MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie] (DE), MPIA) is a research institute of the Max Planck Society (MPG). It is located in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany near the top of the Königstuhl, adjacent to the historic Landessternwarte Heidelberg-Königstuhl astronomical observatory. The institute primarily conducts basic research in the natural sciences in the field of astronomy.

    In addition to its own astronomical observations and astronomical research, the Institute is also actively involved in the development of observation instruments. The instruments or parts of them are manufactured in the institute’s own workshops.

    MPG Society for the Advancement of Science [MPG Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.] is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes founded in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and renamed the Max Planck Society in 1948 in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck. The society is funded by the federal and state governments of Germany as well as other sources.

    According to its primary goal, the Max Planck Society supports fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences, the arts and humanities in its 83 (as of January 2014) Max Planck Institutes. The society has a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, plus around 4,600 non-tenured scientists and guests. Society budget for 2015 was about €1.7 billion.

    The Max Planck Institutes focus on excellence in research. The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization, with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists, and is generally regarded as the foremost basic research organization in Europe and the world. In 2013, the Nature Publishing Index placed the Max Planck institutes fifth worldwide in terms of research published in Nature journals (after Harvard (US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), Stanford (US) and the National Institutes of Health (US)). In terms of total research volume (unweighted by citations or impact), the Max Planck Society is only outranked by the Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN), the Russian Academy of Sciences [Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к](RU) and Harvard University. The Thomson Reuters-Science Watch website placed the Max Planck Society as the second leading research organization worldwide following Harvard University, in terms of the impact of the produced research over science fields.

    The Max Planck Society and its predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society hosted several renowned scientists in their fields, including Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein.


    The organization was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organization named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world’s leading research organizations; its board of directors included scientists like Walther Bothe, Peter Debye, Albert Einstein, and Fritz Haber. In 1946, Otto Hahn assumed the position of President of KWG, and in 1948, the society was renamed the Max Planck Society (MPG) after its former President (1930–37) Max Planck, who died in 1947.

    The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization. In 2006, the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings of non-university research institutions (based on international peer review by academics) placed the Max Planck Society as No.1 in the world for science research, and No.3 in technology research (behind AT&T Corporation and the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (US).

    The domain mpg.de attracted at least 1.7 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.

    The Max Planck Society consists of over 80 research institutes. In addition, the society funds a number of Max Planck Research Groups (MPRG) and International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). The purpose of establishing independent research groups at various universities is to strengthen the required networking between universities and institutes of the Max Planck Society.

    The research units are primarily located across Europe with a few in South Korea and the U.S. In 2007, the Society established its first non-European centre, with an institute on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University (US) focusing on neuroscience.

    The Max Planck Institutes operate independently from, though in close cooperation with, the universities, and focus on innovative research which does not fit into the university structure due to their interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature or which require resources that cannot be met by the state universities.
    Internally, Max Planck Institutes are organized into research departments headed by directors such that each MPI has several directors, a position roughly comparable to anything from full professor to department head at a university. Other core members include Junior and Senior Research Fellows.

    In addition, there are several associated institutes:

    International Max Planck Research Schools

    Together with the Association of Universities and other Education Institutions in Germany, the Max Planck Society established numerous International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) to promote junior scientists:
    Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research, Cologne
    International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems, at the MPG Institute for Intelligent Systems (DE) located in Tübingen and Stuttgart
    International Max Planck Research School on Adapting Behavior in a Fundamentally Uncertain World (Uncertainty School), at the Max Planck Institutes for Economics, for Human Development, and/or Research on Collective Goods
    International Max Planck Research School for Analysis, Design and Optimization in Chemical and Biochemical Process Engineering, Magdeburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics, Heidelberg at the MPG for Astronomy
    International Max Planck Research School for Astrophysics, Garching at the MPG Institute for Astrophysics
    International Max Planck Research School for Complex Surfaces in Material Sciences, Berlin
    International Max Planck Research School for Computer Science, Saarbrücken
    International Max Planck Research School for Earth System Modeling, Hamburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Elementary Particle Physics, Munich, at the MPG Institute for Physics
    International Max Planck Research School for Environmental, Cellular and Molecular Microbiology, Marburg at the MPG Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
    International Max Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology, Plön at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
    International Max Planck Research School “From Molecules to Organisms”, Tübingen at the MPG Institute for Developmental Biology
    International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Jena at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
    International Max Planck Research School on Gravitational Wave Astronomy, Hannover and Potsdam MPG Institute for Gravitational Physics
    International Max Planck Research School for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim at the MPG Institute for Heart and Lung Research
    International Max Planck Research School for Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Berlin at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
    International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, Nijmegen
    International Max Planck Research School for Neurosciences, Göttingen
    International Max Planck Research School for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, Tübingen
    International Max Planck Research School for Marine Microbiology (MarMic), joint program of the MPG Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, the University of Bremen (DE), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, and the Jacobs University Bremen
    International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs, Hamburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Freiburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences, Munich[
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Biology, Göttingen
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Cell Biology and Bioengineering, Dresden
    International Max Planck Research School Molecular Biomedicine, program combined with the ‘Graduate Programm Cell Dynamics And Disease’ at the University of Münster (DE) and the MPG Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School on Multiscale Bio-Systems, Potsdam
    International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology, at the University of Konstanz (DE) and the MPG Institute for Ornithology (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School on Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions (IMPRS RECHARGE), Mülheim an der Ruhr, at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nano-Systems, Halle at MPG Institute of Microstructure Physics (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science[49] at theUniversity of Göttingen – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (DE) hosted by MPG Institute for Solar System Research [Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung] (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Bonn, at the MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy [MPG Institut für Radioastronomie](DE) (formerly the International Max Planck Research School for Radio and Infrared Astronomy)
    International Max Planck Research School for the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, Cologne
    International Max Planck Research School for Surface and Interface Engineering in Advanced Materials, Düsseldorf at MPG Institute for Iron Research [MPG Institut für Eisenforschung] (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Ultrafast Imaging and Structural Dynamics, Hamburg

  • richardmitnick 8:27 pm on July 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Haziness of exoplanet atmospheres depends on properties of aerosol particles", A laboratory study of haze particles produced under different conditions helps explain why some exoplanets may be obscured by hazy atmospheres., Cooler planets located in the habitable zones of their host stars are more likely to have clear atmospheres., Exoplanet research, Haze removal depends on a critical material property of the particles called surface energy., It’s not just haze production but also haze removal that determines how clear the atmosphere is., Many exoplanets have opaque atmospheres obscured by clouds or hazes that make it hard for astronomers to characterize their chemical compositions., Photochemical reactions in the atmospheres of temperate exoplanets lead to the formation of small organic haze particles., The scientists measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres., The study found that a critical factor is the temperature at which the haze particles are created.,   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Haziness of exoplanet atmospheres depends on properties of aerosol particles” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 12, 2021
    Tim Stephens

    A laboratory study of haze particles produced under different conditions helps explain why some exoplanets may be obscured by hazy atmospheres.

    Xinting Yu, a 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSC, measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres. Photo courtesy of Heising-Simons Foundation.

    Researchers measured the refractive indices at visible wavelengths (n) for haze samples created under a range of conditions. Image credit: Yu et al., Nature Astronomy, 2021)

    Many exoplanets have opaque atmospheres obscured by clouds or hazes that make it hard for astronomers to characterize their chemical compositions. A new study shows that haze particles produced under different conditions have a wide range of properties that can determine how clear or hazy a planet’s atmosphere is likely to be.

    Photochemical reactions in the atmospheres of temperate exoplanets lead to the formation of small organic haze particles. Large amounts of these photochemical hazes form in Earth’s atmosphere every day, yet our planet has relatively clear skies. The reason has to do with how easily haze particles are removed from the atmosphere by deposition processes.

    “It’s not just haze production but also haze removal that determines how clear the atmosphere is,” said Xinting Yu, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Cruz and lead author of the study, published July 12 in Nature Astronomy.

    Yu and her colleagues measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres, including a range of gas compositions, temperatures, and energy sources. Coauthor Xi Zhang, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said laboratory experiments like this are essential for understanding haze formation and its impact on observations.

    “We can’t bring haze samples back from exoplanets, so we have to try to mimic the atmospheric conditions in the laboratory,” he said.

    According to Yu, haze removal depends on a critical material property of the particles called surface energy. “Surface energy describes how cohesive or ‘sticky’ the material is,” she said.

    Sticky haze particles readily bond with each other when they collide, growing into larger particles that fall out of the atmosphere onto the surface of the planet (a process called dry deposition). They also make good condensation nuclei for cloud droplets and are easily removed by wet deposition. Hazes produced on Earth typically have high surface energy and are therefore ‘sticky’ and efficiently removed from the atmosphere.

    Yu’s laboratory experiments show that the hazes produced in exoplanet atmospheres are highly diverse, with properties that depend on the conditions in which they are produced.

    “Some of them are similar to the Earth haze, have high surface energy, and are easy to remove, leading to clear skies,” she said. “But some of them have very low surface energy, like a non-stick pan; they do not bond with other particles very well and remain as small particles hanging in the atmosphere for a long time.”

    The study found that a critical factor is the temperature at which the haze particles are created. Hazes produced at around 400 Kelvin (260°F) tended to have the lowest surface energies, leading to less efficient removal and hazier atmospheres. This finding actually corresponds with observed trends, Yu said, noting that exoplanets at temperatures of 400 to 500 K tend to be the haziest.

    Cooler planets located in the habitable zones of their host stars are more likely to have clear atmospheres, she said. “We may not have to worry about habitable exoplanets being too hazy for future observations, as hazes tend to have higher surface energies at lower temperatures,” Yu said. “So it is easy to remove these hazes, leaving relatively clear atmospheres.”

    Astronomers are looking forward to having a powerful tool for characterizing exoplanet atmospheres with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). When an exoplanet transits across the face of its star, its atmosphere filters the light from the star, giving astronomers with a sensitive enough telescope (like JWST) an opportunity to identify the chemical components of the atmosphere using transmission spectroscopy.

    A hazy atmosphere would interfere with transmission spectroscopy, but the hazes themselves may still yield valuable information, according to Zhang.

    “Hazes are not featureless,” he said. “With better telescopes, we may be able to characterize the composition of exoplanet hazes and understand their chemistry. But the observations will be very hard to explain without data from laboratory experiments. This study has revealed the huge diversity of haze particles, and understanding their optical properties will be a high priority for future studies.”

    In addition to Yu and Zhang, the coauthors of the paper include UCSC undergraduate Austin Dymont, astronomy professor Jonathan Fortney, and graduate student Diana Powell at UC Santa Cruz, as well as scientists at Johns Hopkins University (US), Cornell University (US), University of Texas at Austin (US), and University of Grenoble Alpes [Université Grenoble Alpes] (FR). This work was supported by National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

    See the full article here .


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    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

  • richardmitnick 1:59 pm on July 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA’s TESS Discovers Stellar Siblings Host ‘Teenage’ Exoplanets", Exoplanet research, , TOI 2076 and TOI 1807 reside over 130 light-years away with some 30 light-years between them.   

    From NASA/MIT TESS: “NASA’s TESS Discovers Stellar Siblings Host ‘Teenage’ Exoplanets” 


    Jul 12, 2021

    Jeanette Kazmierczak
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    Media contact:
    Claire Andreoli
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
    (301) 286-1940


    Thanks to data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), an international collaboration of astronomers has identified four exoplanets, worlds beyond our solar system, orbiting a pair of related young stars called TOI 2076 and TOI 1807.

    These worlds may provide scientists with a glimpse of a little-understood stage of planetary evolution.

    “The planets in both systems are in a transitional, or teenage, phase of their life cycle,” said Christina Hedges, an astronomer at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute (US) in Moffett Field and NASA’s Ames Research Center (US) in Silicon Valley, both in California. “They’re not newborns, but they’re also not settled down. Learning more about planets in this teen stage will ultimately help us understand older planets in other systems.”

    A paper describing the findings, led by Hedges, was published in The Astronomical Journal.

    TESS Finds Related Stars Have Young Exoplanets.
    Stellar siblings over 130 light-years away host two systems of teenage planets. Watch to learn how NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite discovered these young worlds and what they might tell us about the evolution of planetary systems everywhere, including our own.
    Credits: Chris Smith (KBRwyle)/NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    TOI 2076 and TOI 1807 reside over 130 light-years away with some 30 light-years between them, which places the stars in the northern constellations of Boötes and Canes Venatici, respectively. Both are K-type stars, dwarf stars more orange than our Sun, and around 200 million years old, or less than 5% of the Sun’s age. In 2017, using data from ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) Gaia satellite, scientists showed that the stars are traveling through space in the same direction.

    Astronomers think the stars are too far apart to be orbiting each other, but their shared motion suggests they are related, born from the same cloud of gas.

    Both TOI 2076 and TOI 1807 experience stellar flares that are much more energetic and occur much more frequently than those produced by our own Sun.

    “The stars produce perhaps 10 times more UV light than they will when they reach the Sun’s age,” said co-author George Zhou, an astrophysicist at the University of Southern Queensland (AU). “Since the Sun may have been equally as active at one time, these two systems could provide us with a window into the early conditions of the solar system.”

    TESS monitors large swaths of the sky for nearly a month at a time. This long gaze allows the satellite to find exoplanets by measuring small dips in stellar brightness caused when a planet crosses in front of, or transits, its star.

    Alex Hughes initially brought TOI 2076 to astronomers’ attention after spotting a transit in the TESS data while working on an undergraduate project at Loughborough University (UK), and he has since graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics. Hedges’ team eventually discovered three mini-Neptunes, worlds between the diameters of Earth and Neptune, orbiting the star. Innermost planet TOI 2076 b is about three times Earth’s size and circles its star every 10 days. Outer worlds TOI 2076 c and d are both a little over four times larger than Earth, with orbits exceeding 17 days.

    TOI 1807 hosts only one known planet, TOI 1807 b, which is about twice Earth’s size and orbits the star in just 13 hours. Exoplanets with such short orbits are rare. TOI 1807 b is the youngest example yet discovered of one of these so-called ultra-short period planets.

    Scientists are currently working to measure the planets’ masses, but interference from the hyperactive young stars could make this challenging.

    According to theoretical models, planets initially have thick atmospheres left over from their formation in disks of gas and dust around infant stars. In some cases, planets lose their initial atmospheres due to stellar radiation, leaving behind rocky cores. Some of those worlds go on to develop secondary atmospheres through planetary processes like volcanic activity.

    The ages of the TOI 2076 and TOI 1807 systems suggest that their planets may be somewhere in the middle of this atmospheric evolution. TOI 2076 b receives 400 times more UV light from its star than Earth does from the Sun – and TOI 1807 b gets around 22,000 times more.

    If scientists can discover the planets’ masses, the information could help them determine if missions like NASA’s Hubble and upcoming James Webb space telescopes can study the planets’ atmospheres – if they have them.

    The team is particularly interested in TOI 1807 b because it’s an ultra-short period planet. Theoretical models suggest it should be difficult for worlds to form so close to their stars, but they can form farther out and then migrate inward. Because it would have had to both form and migrate in just 200 million years, TOI 1807 b will help scientists further understand the life cycles of these types of planets. If it doesn’t have a very thick atmosphere and its mass is mostly rock, the planet’s proximity to its star could potentially mean its surface is covered in oceans or lakes of molten lava.

    “Many objects we study in astronomy evolve on such long timescales that a human being can’t see changes month to month or year to year,” said co-author Trevor David, a research fellow at the Flatiron Institute’s (US) Center for Computational Astrophysics (US) in New York. “If you want to see how planets evolve, your best bet is to find many planets of different ages and then ask how they’re different. The TESS discovery of the TOI 2076 and TOI 1807 systems advances our understanding of the teenage exoplanet stage.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest dwarf stars in the sky. In a two-year survey of the solar neighborhood, TESS will monitor the brightness of stars for periodic drops caused by planet transits. The TESS mission is finding planets ranging from small, rocky worlds to giant planets, showcasing the diversity of planets in the galaxy.

    Astronomers predict that TESS will discover dozens of Earth-sized planets and up to 500 planets less than twice the size of Earth. In addition to Earth-sized planets, TESS is expected to find some 20,000 exoplanets in its two-year prime mission. TESS will find upwards of 17,000 planets larger than Neptune.

    TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

  • richardmitnick 10:52 am on July 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A closer look-the atmospheres of exoplanets", Astronomers estimate there should be at least as many free-floating planets as there are stars in the Milky Way ., , , , Beginning in 2024 the space telescope Twinkle will identify constituents of the atmospheres of exoplanets., , , Excellence Cluster ORIGINS, Exoplanet research, In a computer model the researchers found that cosmic rays could substitute for sunlight to convert molecular hydrogen and carbon dioxide into water and other products., , Moons of rogue planets could have water and life., ORIGINS consortium, Space telescope Twinkle, The data collected during the mission may reveal the presence of substances that are compatible with the possibility of extraterrestrial life on exoplanets., The presence of exomoons orbiting free-floating planets has been theoretically predicted by several models., Twinkle is the first mission that is designed to systematically investigate the atmospheres of several hundred exoplanets., Visible and infrared spectroscopy, While the results indicated that the moon would likely have 10000 times less water than in Earth’s oceans it would still possess 100 times more water than in Earth’s atmosphere.   

    From Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München] (DE) and From EarthSky : “A closer look-the atmospheres of exoplanets” and “Moons of rogue planets could have water and life” Compound Post 

    From Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München] (DE)



    From EarthSky

    9 Jul 2021

    The Excellence Cluster ORIGINS has become a founding member of the Twinkle mission (UK). Lift-off for the new space telescope is planned for 2024.

    Beginning in 2024 the space telescope Twinkle will identify constituents of the atmospheres of exoplanets by analyzing the starlight that passes through them with the aid of visible and infrared spectroscopy (at wavelengths of 0.5-4.5 μm). These spectra contain specific fingerprints that reveal the molecular composition of the atmosphere. Twinkle is the first mission that is designed to systematically investigate the atmospheres of several hundred exoplanets.

    The data collected during the mission may reveal the presence of substances that are compatible with the possibility of extraterrestrial life on exoplanets. Among such compounds are water vapor, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and organic molecules such as methane, acetylene, ethylene, ethane, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and phosphine.

    The experimental analysis of the atmospheres of exoplanets undertaken by Twinkle is a highly valuable addition to the research being done by the ORIGINS consortium. “Among other things, we are looking at the links between planet formation and the chemical evolution of the earliest prebiotic molecules, using a number of methodological approaches,” says Prof. Barbara Ercolano of the LMU Observatory and one of the principal investigators of the ORIGINS Cluster. “As a founding member of the Twinkle mission, the members of the Cluster will be in a position to make a significant contribution to the mission’s scientific program before it gets off the ground,” she adds. Among the other members of the Cluster’s Twinkle team are Prof. Thomas Preibisch, Prof. Til Birnstiel and Dr. Arno Riffeser.

    The scientific questions of ORIGINS include:

    What thermochemical properties do exoplanets have, and how are these features influenced by the optical, UV, and x-ray emission from their host star?

    Under which conditions and on what time-scales can the atmospheres of exoplanets be destroyed by intense radiation or highly energetic emissions from their host stars?

    What chemical inventories are available for life to emerge?

    Twinkle is the first mission to be undertaken by Blue Skies Space Ltd, a private company registered in England and Wales. Blue Skies Space is financed by both private and public sources, including the UK Space Agency (UKSA), the European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) and other research institutions.

    The Twinkle Space Mission

    Moons of rogue planets could have water and life

    July 10, 2021
    Paul Scott Anderson

    Artist’s concept of a giant free-floating planet with its Earth-sized moon. A new study suggests that some such moons could retain enough heat and water to support life, even as its planet is unattached to any sun. Image via Tommaso Grassi/ Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München](DE).

    Water is abundant in our solar system. Besides Earth, scientists have found evidence for subsurface lakes on Mars and a growing number of subsurface oceans on small icy moons in the outer solar system. It seems reasonable, then, that water might exist on planets and moons in other solar systems. But what about rogue planets, free-floating worlds that don’t orbit a star? A June 2021 study from astrophysicists at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München in Germany focused on the possibility of liquid water on exomoons of rogue planets. The intriguing results show that moons of rogue planets should indeed be able to possess an atmosphere and retain liquid water.

    The peer-reviewed International Journal of Astrobiology published this study on June 8, 2021.

    Billions of free-floating planets

    It might sound weird for planets to exist apart from stars. But astronomers have discovered many of these rogue planets in the past several years. Astronomers estimate there should be at least as many free-floating planets as there are stars in the Milky Way (over 100 billion), and probably more. They drift freely through space, untethered by the gravity of a local star. And some of them should have moons. The paper states:

    “A free-floating planet … is a planetary-mass object that orbits around a non-stellar massive object (e.g. a brown dwarf) or around the galactic center. The presence of exomoons orbiting free-floating planets has been theoretically predicted by several models.”

    Artist’s concept shows a cutaway of Jupiter’s moon Europa, one of at least several icy moons that have subsurface water oceans. According to a new study, moons of planets that are freely floating in space with no suns could also have water, even on their surfaces. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech (US)/Space.com.

    Liquid water on moons of rogue planets?

    Could any of these moons have water on their surfaces, or inside? It would seem so, according to the new paper:

    “Under specific conditions, these moons are able to retain an atmosphere capable of ensuring the long-term thermal stability of liquid water on their surface.

    We find that, under specific conditions and assuming stable orbital parameters over time, liquid water can be formed on the surface of the exomoon.

    The final amount of water for an Earth-mass exomoon is smaller than the amount of water in Earth oceans, but enough to host the potential development of primordial life. The chemical equilibrium time-scale is controlled by cosmic rays, the main ionization driver in our model of the exomoon atmosphere.”

    Enough water for life

    In this study, Barbara Ercolano, Tommaso Grassi and their colleagues used a computer to model the atmosphere of an exomoon orbiting a free-floating planet. While the results indicated that the moon would likely have 10,000 times less water than in Earth’s oceans, it would still possess 100 times more water than in Earth’s atmosphere. That is more than enough to support some forms of life.

    Giant planets with giant moons

    In the study, the computer model simulated a moon about the size of Earth orbiting a Jupiter-sized free-floating planet. The largest moon we know of is Ganymede, Jupiter’s biggest satellite, which is about 26% larger than Mercury. The simulation’s large Earth-sized moon might not be that much of a stretch, though. Tentative evidence exists for a giant moon orbiting the planet Kepler-1625b, 8,000 light-years away in the direction of our constellation Cygnus the Swan. In that case, the possible moon is about the size of Neptune and the planet is several times larger than Jupiter.

    One possible large exomoon has been found so far (but not confirmed yet), Kepler-1625b, which is 8,000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus the Swan. The possible moon in this artist’s concept is about the size of Neptune and the planet is several times larger than Jupiter. Image via HubbleSite.

    Cosmic rays instead of sunlight

    One obvious question is: how could a planetary system with no sun possibly support life? Plants on Earth need sunlight for photosynthesis, and almost all other life depends on plants. In the computer model, the researchers found that cosmic rays could substitute for sunlight to convert molecular hydrogen and carbon dioxide into water and other products.

    The tidal forces exerted by the planet on its moon could provide heat, much as the giant planets in our solar system do with their icy moons. If there were enough carbon dioxide in the moon’s atmosphere, at least 90%, the greenhouse effect would retain enough of that heat to keep water liquid and make life possible. As summarized in the paper:

    “We found that an exomoon orbiting around a free-floating planet provides an environment that might sustain liquid water onto its surface if the optical thickness of the atmosphere is relatively large and the orbital parameters produce enough tidal heating to increase the temperature over the melting point of water.”

    The idea of water and life on worlds that don’t orbit stars might seem like science fiction. But if these researchers are right, it might not be that far-fetched after all. Exomoons are still difficult to detect, but that will change in the coming years. What will astronomers find?

    See the full LMU article here.

    See the full Earthsky article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Welcome to Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München] (DE) – the University in the heart of Munich. LMU is recognized as one of Europe’s premier academic and research institutions. Since our founding in 1472, LMU has attracted inspired scholars and talented students from all over the world, keeping the University at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change our complex world.

    Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München] (DE) is a public research university located in Munich, Germany.

    The University of Munich is Germany’s sixth-oldest university in continuous operation. Originally established in Ingolstadt in 1472 by Duke Ludwig IX of Bavaria-Landshut, the university was moved in 1800 to Landshut by King Maximilian I of Bavaria when Ingolstadt was threatened by the French, before being relocated to its present-day location in Munich in 1826 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria. In 1802, the university was officially named Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität by King Maximilian I of Bavaria in his as well as the university’s original founder’s honour.

    The University of Munich is associated with 43 Nobel laureates (as of October 2020). Among these were Wilhelm Röntgen, Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Otto Hahn and Thomas Mann. Pope Benedict XVI was also a student and professor at the university. Among its notable alumni, faculty and researchers are inter alia Rudolf Peierls, Josef Mengele, Richard Strauss, Walter Benjamin, Joseph Campbell, Muhammad Iqbal, Marie Stopes, Wolfgang Pauli, Bertolt Brecht, Max Horkheimer, Karl Loewenstein, Carl Schmitt, Gustav Radbruch, Ernst Cassirer, Ernst Bloch, Konrad Adenauer. The LMU has recently been conferred the title of “University of Excellence” under the German Universities Excellence Initiative.

    LMU is currently the second-largest university in Germany in terms of student population; in the winter semester of 2018/2019, the university had a total of 51,606 matriculated students. Of these, 9,424 were freshmen while international students totalled 8,875 or approximately 17% of the student population. As for operating budget, the university records in 2018 a total of 734,9 million euros in funding without the university hospital; with the university hospital, the university has a total funding amounting to approximately 1.94 billion euros.


    LMU’s Institute of Systematic Botany is located at Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg
    Faculty of chemistry buildings at the Martinsried campus of LMU Munich

    The university consists of 18 faculties which oversee various departments and institutes. The official numbering of the faculties and the missing numbers 06 and 14 are the result of breakups and mergers of faculties in the past. The Faculty of Forestry Operations with number 06 has been integrated into the Technical University of Munich [Technische Universität München] (DE) in 1999 and faculty number 14 has been merged with faculty number 13.

    01 Faculty of Catholic Theology
    02 Faculty of Protestant Theology
    03 Faculty of Law
    04 Faculty of Business Administration
    05 Faculty of Economics
    07 Faculty of Medicine
    08 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
    09 Faculty for History and the Arts
    10 Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Study of Religion
    11 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
    12 Faculty for the Study of Culture
    13 Faculty for Languages and Literatures
    15 Faculty of Social Sciences
    16 Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
    17 Faculty of Physics
    18 Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy
    19 Faculty of Biology
    20 Faculty of Geosciences and Environmental Sciences

    Research centres

    In addition to its 18 faculties, the University of Munich also maintains numerous research centres involved in numerous cross-faculty and transdisciplinary projects to complement its various academic programmes. Some of these research centres were a result of cooperation between the university and renowned external partners from academia and industry; the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, for example, was established through a joint initiative between LMU Munich and the Deutsches Museum, while the Parmenides Center for the Study of Thinking resulted from the collaboration between the Parmenides Foundation and LMU Munich’s Human Science Center.

    Some of the research centres which have been established include:

    Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM)
    Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)
    Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health
    Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM)
    Parmenides Center for the Study of Thinking
    Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

  • richardmitnick 12:49 pm on July 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Possible Evolution of an Exoplanet’s Atmosphere", , , Exoplanet research   

    From Eos: “The Possible Evolution of an Exoplanet’s Atmosphere” 

    From AGU
    Eos news bloc

    From Eos

    23 June 2021 [Just now in social media.]
    Stacy Kish

    Gleise 1132 b is an exoplanet in the constellation Vela, about 40 light-years away from Earth. Credit: R. Hurt (Caltech IPAC-Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (US))National Aeronautics Space Agency (US), European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    Researchers have long been curious about how atmospheres on rocky exoplanets might evolve. The evolution of our own atmosphere is one model: Earth’s primordial atmosphere was rich in hydrogen and helium, but our planet’s gravitational grip was too weak to prevent these lightest of elements from escaping into space. Researchers want to know whether the atmospheres on Earth-like exoplanets experience a similar evolution.

    By analyzing spectroscopic data taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, Mark Swain and his team were able to describe one scenario for atmospheric evolution on Gliese 1132 b (GJ 1132 b), a rocky exoplanet similar in size and density to Earth. In a new study published in The Astronomical Journal, Swain and his colleagues suggest that GJ 1132 b has restored its hydrogen-rich atmosphere after having lost it early in the exoplanet’s history.

    “Small terrestrial planets, where we might find life outside of our solar system, are profoundly impacted by atmosphere loss,” said Swain, a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “We have no idea how common atmospheric restoration is, but it is going to be important in the long-term study of potential habitable worlds.”

    The Atmosphere Conundrum

    GJ 1132 b closely orbits the red dwarf Gliese 1132, about 40 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Vela. Using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, Swain and his team gathered transmission spectrum data as the planet transited in front of the star four times. They checked for the presence of an atmosphere with a tool called Exoplanet Calibration Bayesian Unified Retrieval Pipeline (EXCALIBUR). To their surprise, they detected an atmosphere on GJ 1132 b—one with a remarkable composition.

    “Atmosphere can come back, but we were not expecting to find the second atmosphere rich in hydrogen,” said Raissa Estrela, a postdoctoral fellow at JPL and a contributing author on the paper. “We expected a heavier atmosphere, like the nitrogen-rich one on Earth.”

    Distant Planet May Be On Its 2nd Atmosphere, NASA’s Hubble Finds.

    To explain the presence of hydrogen in the atmosphere, researchers considered the evolution of the exoplanet’s surface, including possible volcanic activity. Like early Earth, GJ 1132 b was likely initially covered by magma. As such planets age and cool, denser substances sink down to the core and mantle and lighter substances solidify as crust and create a rocky surface.

    Swain and his team proposed that a portion of GJ 1132 b’s primordial atmosphere, rather than being lost to space, was absorbed by its magmatic sea before the exoplanet’s interior differentiated. As the planet aged, its thin crust would have acted as a cap on the hydrogen-infused mantle below. If tidal heating prevented the mantle from crystallizing, the trapped hydrogen would escape slowly through the crust and continually resupply the emerging atmosphere.

    “This may be the first paper that explores an observational connection between the atmosphere of a rocky exoplanet and some of the [contributing] geologic processes,” said Swain. “We were able to make a statement that there is outgassing [that has been] more or less ongoing because the atmosphere is not sustainable. It requires replenishment.”

    The Hydrogen Controversy

    Not everyone agrees.

    “I find the idea of a hydrogen-dominated atmosphere to be a really implausible story,” said Raymond Pierrehumbert, Halley Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford (UK), who did not contribute to the study.

    Pierrehumbert pointed to a preprint article from a team of scientists led by Lorenzo V. Mugnai, a Ph.D. student in astrophysics at Sapienza University of Rome[Sapienza Università di Roma] (IT) of Rome. Mugnai’s team examined the same data from GJ 1132 b as Swain’s did, but did not identify a hydrogen-rich atmosphere.

    According to Pierrehumbert, the devil is in the details of how the data were analyzed. Most notably, Mugnai’s team used different software (Iraclis) to analyze the Hubble transit data. Later, Mugnai and his group repeated their analysis using another set of tools (Calibration of Transit Spectroscopy Using Causal Data, or CASCADe) when they saw how profoundly different their findings were.

    “We used two different software programs to analyze the space telescope data,” said Mugnai. “Both of them lead us to the same answer; it’s different from the one found in [Swain’s] work.”

    Another article [The Astronomical Journal], by a team led by University of Colorado (US) graduate student Jessica Libby-Roberts, supported Mugnai’s findings. That study, which also used the Iraclis pipeline, ruled out the presence of a cloud-free, hydrogen- or helium-dominated atmosphere on GJ 1132 b. The analysis did not negate an atmosphere on the planet, just one detectable by Hubble (i.e., hydrogen-rich). This group proposed a secondary atmosphere with a high metallicity (similar to Venus), an oxygen-dominated atmosphere, or perhaps no atmosphere at all.

    Constructive Conflict

    The research groups led by Swain and Mugnai have engaged in constructive conversations to identify the reason for the differences, specifically why the EXCALIBUR, Iraclis, and CASCADe software pipelines are producing such different results.

    “We are very proud and happy of this collaboration,” said Mugnai. “It’s proof of how different results can be used to learn more from each other and help the growth of [the entire] scientific community.”

    “I think both [of our] teams are really motivated by a desire to understand what’s going on,” said Swain.

    The Telescope of the Future

    According to Pierrehumbert, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may offer a solution to this quandary.

    JWST will allow for the detection of atmospheres with higher molecular weights, like the nitrogen-dominated atmosphere on Earth. If GJ 1132 b lacks an atmosphere, JWST’s infrared capabilities may even allow scientists to observe the planet’s surface. “If there are magma pools or volcanism going on, those areas will be hotter,” Swain explained in a statement. “That will generate more emission, and so they’ll be looking potentially at the actual geologic activity—which is exciting!”

    GJ 1132 b is slated for two observational passes when JWST comes online. Kevin Stevenson, a staff astronomer at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (US), and Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, a postdoctoral fellow there, will lead the teams.

    “Every rocky exoplanet is a world of possibilities,” said Lustig-Yaeger. “JWST is expected to provide the first opportunity to search for signs of habitability and biosignatures in the atmospheres of potentially habitable exoplanets. We are on the brink of beginning to answer [many of] these questions.”

    See the full article here .


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    Eos is the leading source for trustworthy news and perspectives about the Earth and space sciences and their impact. Its namesake is Eos, the Greek goddess of the dawn, who represents the light shed on understanding our planet and its environment in space by the Earth and space sciences.

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