Exoplanets have been causing a stir over the past decade-plus, with scientists regularly confirming new exoplanets thanks to NASA’s Kepler and TESS missions, as well as the James Webb Space Telescope recently examining exoplanet atmospheres. It’s because of these discoveries that exoplanet science has become an exciting field of intrigue and wonder, but do the same scientists who study these wondrous and mysterious worlds have their own favorite exoplanets? Turns out four of these exoplanetary scientists, sometimes referred to as “exoplanets,” were kind enough to share their favorites with Universe Today!
“My favorite is actually an exoplanet system: the HR 8799 system,” said Dr. Theodora Karalidi, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Central Florida. “There are four planets in the system that are giant and still hot enough and far enough from their parent star that we can see them with our telescopes. Watching the planets revolve around their parent star is fascinating.
HR 8799 is located about 130 light-years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus, whose planets – HR 8799 b, HR 8799 c, HR 8799 d and HR 8799 e – were discovered using the d method. direct imagery, with b, c and d discovered in 2008 and e discovered in 2010. The four exoplanets are 8 to 10 times more massive than Jupiter and all orbit well beyond the HZ of their parent star.
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“I like a lot of exoplanets and I’m not good at choosing my favorites, but I guess I should choose Kepler-9d because I discovered it!” Dr. Darin Ragozzine, who is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Brigham Young University, proudly exclaimed. “The Kepler team was actively working on Kepler-9, and I had the idea to check the additional signals and released Kepler-9d. This is my only personal discovery of the planet, although I have been involved with many others!
After its discovery using what is known as the transit method in 2010, Dr Ragozzine was also the lead author of a landmark 2018 paper on the Kepler-9 system, located about 2,049 light-years from Earth. Earth. As noted, the exoplanet that Dr. Ragozzine discovered is Kepler-9d, which is believed to be a rocky planet just over 3 times as massive as Earth. While this sounds intriguing for life prospects, Kepler-9d orbits well inside the habitable zone (HZ) of its parent star, and much closer than Mercury with an orbital period of just 1.6 days.
“I love HD 20782 b,” said Dr. Stephen Kane, a professor of planetary astrophysics with a dual role in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California. at Riverside. “It’s the most eccentric exoplanet known (e=0.97!!), just like an incredible giant wrecking ball that comes so close to its star that it almost touches!”
HD 20782 b is known as a very eccentric exoplanet located about 117 light years from Earth, which means that its orbit is incredibly elongated and actually moves in and out of its star’s HZ during one orbit. It was discovered in 2006 using the radial velocity method, is slightly more massive than Jupiter and takes over a year and a half to orbit its star. A short extract from the orbit of HD 20782 b was provided by Dr Kane and can be found here.
The last favorite exoplanet of our trip is not a specific exoplanet or exoplanetary system, but a type exoplanets known as pulsar planets, which, as their name suggests, are exoplanets orbiting pulsars and are incredibly rare. These exoplanets are favorites of Dr. Alex Wolszczan, who is an Evan Pugh University professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State University, saying they are his favorites not just because he has them. discoveries.
“These are the first confirmed exoplanets, and this discovery led to the prediction that planets should be common around all kinds of stars, which is exactly what we have discovered over the past 30 years,” says Dr Wolszczan .
The discovery Dr. Wolszczan is referring to occurred in 1992 with two exoplanets in a system known as PSR B1257+12 located approximately 1,950 light-years from Earth, and were found using the method of pulsar synchronization, with a third exoplanet confirmed in 1994. While this sounds quite intriguing, pulsar planets would not be a good place to search for life due to the intense levels of radiation emanating from the pulsar itself.
What are your favorite exoplanets, exoplanetary systems or types of exoplanets?
As always, keep doing science and keep looking up!
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