44 New Planets Identified Beyond Our Solar System

Researchers in Japan, the US and Europe have confirmed the existence of 44 exoplanets and shed light on their sizes, temperatures and orbits.

AsianScientist (Aug. 23, 2018) – An international team of scientists, including researchers from Japan, has identified 44 planets in solar systems beyond our own. Their findings are published in The Astronomical Journal.

Scientists hope to understand what kinds of planets exist beyond our solar system, but they can only draw valid conclusions if there are enough observable planets for robust statistical analysis.

In this study, an international team of astronomers pooled data from NASA’s Kepler telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope, as well as from ground-based telescopes in the US, to confirm the existence of 44 exoplanets. The planets observed are known as transiting planets because their orbits bring them in front of their host stars, slightly reducing the brightness of said stars.

However, other astrophysical phenomena can cause similar signals, hence the scientists performed follow-up observations and detailed statistical analyses to verify the planetary nature of these signals. They were also able to precisely determine the planets’ sizes, temperatures and orbits.

“For example, four of the planets orbit their host stars in less than 24 hours,” said Mr. John Livingston, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo who is the first author of the study. “In other words, a year on each of those planets is shorter than a day here on Earth.”

These contribute to a small but growing list of ‘ultrashort-period’ planets, suggesting that such planets are not as unusual as they initially seemed.

“It was gratifying to verify so many small planets. Sixteen were in the same size class as Earth, one in particular turning out to be extremely small—about the size of Venus—which was a nice affirmation as it’s close to the limit of what is possible to detect,” said Livingston, adding that “the study of other worlds has much to teach us about our own.”

The article can be found at: Livingston et al. (2018) 44 Validated Planets from K2 Campaign 10.


Source: University of Tokyo.
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