Friday, July 12, 2013

Discovery of a planet with the mass of Saturn

The detection of discrete mass planets located at distances solar systems continues to garner notable achievements. And these do not feed only technological advances but also the ingenuity of new generations of scientists who apply innovative ways to process the data obtained in observations, with which they can detect celestial objects that would otherwise go unnoticed.

This is the case of Karen Collins, one electrical engineer whose fascination for astronomy long finished taking her to this second career. 

The engineer and astronomer, working from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, United States, developed the A technique that allowed accurate measurement to make this subtle dimming of the star that betrayed the presence of an orbiting planet passing in front her of the sun , from the visual perspective of the Earth. Collins did not just sit at the telescope, but had to develop an effective way to extract data from the instrument available.

Collins had the collaboration of John Kielkopf and Jeff are in the same university, and Scott Gaudi and Thomas Beatty of Ohio State University in Columbus, Keivan Stassun of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the University Joshua Pepper Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa., all these entities in the United States.

The discovery was made using low cost ground-based telescopes, including a special designed to detect exoplanets and managed jointly by Kelt Project astronomers, including Gaudi.

The project has two telescopes KELT: the North Kelt, Arizona, and its twin, South Kelt, South Africa. Their modest powers have shown that small telescopes can make important discoveries in the field of exoplanet astronomy.

Yes we used the powerful twin Keck Observatory telescopes in Hawaii, to obtain key data which was then possible to deepen and finally observations confirm the discovery of Kelt-6b.

Collins and his team determined that KELT-6b is a gas giant planet high temperature that revolves around a star the same age as our Sun The planet is similar to Saturn in size and mass, but no rings. It also resembles a well-studied exoplanet, HD 209458b, but unlike the latter, Kelt-6b was formed in an environment with increased scarcity of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium.

Viewed from Earth, Kelt-6b lies in the constellation Coma Berenices, near Leo, and has an orbit that makes crossing in front of its star (from the visual perspective of Earth) once every 7.8 days. That means a "year" on this planet lasts just over a week, and your journey ahead of its star disk as seen from Earth, lasting only five hours. 

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