The Kepler Space Telescope was the workhorse of exoplanet discovery until its second reaction wheel failed, rendering it incapable of continuing its original mission. Now, Kepler is back in the game of planet hunting.
The Kepler Mission has measured planet radii and orbital periods for 3,000+ light curves. So what is next? Either we convince the continental USA to become amateur astronomers… Or we figure out ways to retrieve more planetary parameters from the Kepler data set. I’ll stick with the later. And so will the authors or this paper.
If you didn’t know already, asteroseismology is awesome. Read on to hear why…
On Earth, the chaotic nature of weather leads to the famous “butterfly effect”, in which the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can theoretically create a hurricane. Chaos is a fundamental element of nature which can arise in many environments–including stars.
Many exoplanets in our galaxy are all alone. They have no one to cuddle up to on those cold, lonely nights in space…
Stars: steady-burning nuclear flames that pierce the darkness of space. Except when they’re not. The star known as HD 181068 is bright, but it’s no standard candle. On closer inspection, this well-studied system is actually home to three stars locked in a complex cosmic dance.
KIC 2856960 appeared to be an interesting but straightforward triple star system in the Kepler catalog. But attempts to model this system prove that appearances can be deceiving.
Instead of happily orbiting in circles with constant velocity, the two stars spend most of their time far apart, and a few harrowing hours racing past each other. Or, to put it another way: hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. This is a heartbeat star.
Artist’s impressions of exoplanets are often wrong!
There are nine Earth-like planets detectable in the Kepler data set… better get searching!