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Money The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System

11:54  17 april  2018
11:54  17 april  2018 Source:   theatlantic.com

Mercury in Retrograde Now, Stumping Scientists Always

  Mercury in Retrograde Now, Stumping Scientists Always “Mercury is just so weird and so exotic compared to the Moon and other terrestrial planets"But scientists who study Mercury aren’t looking for excuses. They’re churning through a treasure trove of data produced by a recent NASA visit and anticipating the October launch of a new mission headed back to Mercury. All of that effort is directed toward solving the puzzles the planet represents: because not only are scientists not sure how it came into being, but what the last spacecraft to visit Mercury found wasn’t at all what they expected.

What can it teach us ? 5. But the Solar System is bigger than you think. Beyond the orbit of Neptune (the furthermost planet ), it takes a long time to leave the Solar System .

For millennia, the only planets we knew of were the ones in our own solar system . One trip all the way around took just four days. Astrophysicists didn’t think a planet that size could orbit so closely to a star.

  The Planet That Took Us Beyond the Solar System © NASA / JPL-Caltech For millennia, the only planets we knew of were the ones in our own solar system. That changed in October 1995, when a pair of Swiss astrophysicists discovered a planet orbiting a sun-like star about 50 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Pegasus. For decades, scientists had suspected that other planets existed in the cosmos, and they finally had the proof.

The discovery of 51 Pegasi b, as it was called, was just the beginning. The astronomy community was witnessing “A Parade of New Planets,” declared a headline in Scientific American in 1996. In the months since the exoplanet discovery had been announced, the publication reported, astronomers had reported finding at least four more planets.

Mercury in Retrograde Now, Stumping Scientists Always

  Mercury in Retrograde Now, Stumping Scientists Always “Mercury is just so weird and so exotic compared to the Moon and other terrestrial planets"But scientists who study Mercury aren’t looking for excuses. They’re churning through a treasure trove of data produced by a recent NASA visit and anticipating the October launch of a new mission headed back to Mercury. All of that effort is directed toward solving the puzzles the planet represents: because not only are scientists not sure how it came into being, but what the last spacecraft to visit Mercury found wasn’t at all what they expected.

The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system of the planets and the Sun plus other objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly.

One trip around the sun would take 10,000 to 20,000 years. “ We have pretty good constraints on its orbit,” Dr. Brown said. “What we don’t know is where An animation explains the case for the presence of a ninth planet -size object deep in the solar system , beyond the orbit of Neptune.Published OnJan.

More than two decades later, the parade is still going. Today, there are 3,717 known exoplanets, and nearly 4,500 other suspected exoplanets waiting to be verified. More than 900 of them are thought to have a rocky surface like Earth’s.

On Wednesday, NASA will launch a new spacecraft designed to discover still more exoplanets. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, will spend two years surveilling more than 200,000 stars, watching for evidence of planets around them.

TESS will employ a method different than the one that was used to discover 51 Pegasi b, but the spacecraft owes a great deal to the first known exoplanet. Without 51 Pegasi b, astrophysicists may not have seriously considered the technology that should allow TESS to find thousands of new planets in the Milky Way.

Three Vast 'Holes' Just Appeared on the Sun—and They're Bombarding Earth with Geomagnetic Storms

  Three Vast 'Holes' Just Appeared on the Sun—and They're Bombarding Earth with Geomagnetic Storms Coronal holes are gaps in the Sun's outermost atmosphere which are less dense and cooler than their surroundings. Magnetic field images released by the SDO show huge dark patches on the Sun’s surface, indicating their location.The holes spew out charged particles which can affect animals and electronic systems on Earth, and cause auroras to appear at lower latitudes than normal if they interact with the magnetosphere—the region around our planet dominated by its magnetic field.

In addition, the solar system contains other stuff, such as the various moons of the planets , asteroids and comets. Now, we come to the concept of "big" again. Beyond the orbit of Neptune, there is still more to our solar system , with such things as the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. Take a look at this

The Great Beyond of the Solar System . Our star and its planets are just a tiny fraction of the Milky Way. The closest star is located 4 light years away from us . This means that it would take 4 years to reach it at the speed of light.

In 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, both at the University of Geneva, were trying to find exoplanets with a technique called the radial-velocity method. Sometimes, when a planet orbits a star, the planet’s gravity causes the star to wobble ever so slightly. The wobbling motion produces shifts in the star’s light, which can be detected with special instruments from Earth. By studying these shifts, astrophysicists can figure out the mass of a planet and how long it takes to complete one orbit around its star.

Back then, some were skeptical that the radial-velocity method would work, and a number of searches using the technique had proved unsuccessful since the late 1980s. The discovery of 51 Peg, as Mayor and Queloz like to call the exoplanet, was the breakthrough everyone was waiting for.

Planets Orbiting Binary Stars Can Be Thrown Into Space

  Planets Orbiting Binary Stars Can Be Thrown Into Space If one planet gets thrown out, others in the neighborhood might go down with it, the study suggested.David Fleming, a student from University of Washington and the lead author of the study, posited the theory after taking a close look at short-term eclipsing binaries, or the system in which the orbital path of stars is so close to the line of sight, one star appears to cross the other’s path for a short while.

Well, the biologists get furious with me for saying that, because we have absolutely no evidence for life beyond Earth yet. Here, this animation is zooming in onto our solar system . And you'll see here the planets as well as some spacecraft that are also orbiting our sun.

The fictional portrayal of our Solar System has often included planets , moons, and other celestial objects which do not actually exist in reality. Some of these objects were, at one time, seriously considered as hypothetical planets which were either thought to have been observed

But no one was prepared for the planet they found.

“When we discovered 51 Peg, it was quite an unusual object,” says Mayor, now a professor emeritus at the university. “It was absolutely not expected from theory.”

51 Pegasi b was about half the mass of Jupiter and orbited extremely close to its star. One trip all the way around took just four days. Astrophysicists didn’t think a planet that size could orbit so closely to a star. The innermost planet in our solar system, Mercury, is thousands of times less massive than Jupiter and takes 88 days to orbit the sun. When Mayor and Queloz announced their find at a scientific conference in Italy, some members of the field were skeptical, but a different team soon confirmed the discovery.

“The shock was so profound that 51 Peg completely changed our perspective of how we could look for planets,” says Queloz, now a physics professor at both Geneva and the University of Cambridge.

The discovery of 51 Pegasi b meant that astrophysicists could look much closer to a star to search for exoplanets. This led them to more seriously consider another technique for detecting planets, known as the transmit method. Like the radial-velocity method, the transit method relies on a star’s light. Astronomers train their telescopes on a star and watch for any dimming in its brightness, which would occur when a planet passes in front of it and blocks out the light. The closer the planet is to its parent star, the easier it is for telescopes to spot it.

NASA's TESS spacecraft may find 1,600 new planets in the next two years

  NASA's TESS spacecraft may find 1,600 new planets in the next two years On Monday evening, NASA plans to launch a brand new satellite into orbit, courtesy of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. On Monday evening (Tuesday AEST), NASA plans to launch a brand new satellite into orbit, courtesy of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Called TESS (the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), the spacecraft is designed to detect planets outside our solar system (called exoplanets) that are relatively close to our solar neighbourhood.

A planet -size object may be orbiting the sun in the icy reaches of the solar system beyond Pluto. If you then take a snapshot of them, you will find that their spin axes will be at different orientations, but on average, they will be pointing to the local gravitational field of Earth," she said.

It only takes the planet 14 days to orbit Kepler-90. So, its surface is much warmer -- 427 degrees Celsius. The two trained a computer to identify planets beyond our solar system . We want to hear from you. What kinds of new planets do you think we will discover in the near future? solar system – n. a star and the planets that move around it. light-year(s) – n. a unit of distance equal to

The first detection of an exoplanet using this method was announced in 2003 by astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. OGLE-TR-56b, located around 5,000 light-years away, is about the size of Jupiter and orbits 14 times closer to its star than Mercury does to the sun.

In 2009, the Kepler mission took the transit method to space. Kepler, a NASA spacecraft, launched into an orbit around the sun equipped with instruments to detect dips in the brightness of thousands of stars in its field of view. The mission has discovered thousands of confirmed and potential exoplanets since. NASA now announces the verification of new exoplanets so often—about every few months or so—that these discoveries are no longer headline-making news.

Today, the planets in our solar system seem like the weird ones. Kepler has found rocky planets 10 times the mass of Earth, gas giants the size of Jupiter with scorching temperatures, and even rogue planets floating around the galaxy without a star to call home. At least 30 exoplanets are about the size of Earth and orbit in the habitable zone of their star systems, that cosmic sweet spot where water exists as a liquid on the surface.

“I still think that today, without 51 Peg, Kepler would never have flown,” Queloz said. And if Kepler hadn’t flown, TESS probably wouldn’t have, either. Like Kepler, TESS will search for exoplanets using the transit method.

NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds

  NASA's new planet-hunter to seek closer, Earth-like worlds NASA is poised to launch a $337 million washing machine-sized spacecraft that aims to vastly expand mankind's search for planets beyond our solar system, particularly closer, Earth-sized ones that might harbor life. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to launch Monday at 6:32 pm (2232 GMT) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its main goal over the next two years is to scan more than 200,000 of the brightest stars for signs of planets circling them and causing a dip in brightness known as a transit.

Some distant objects far beyond Pluto were behaving very oddly. The orbits of a handful of space rocks had aligned for no apparent reason. Though stumped at first, astronomers now have an explanation: a huge ninth planet at the edge of the solar system .

We grew up knowing exactly what the solar system looked like, from our central Sun all the way out to Pluto. Researchers are confident that Planet 9 exists, based on their “tracking” of its gravitational impact through the Kuiper Belt, but it could still take years to discover.

TESS’s timing couldn’t be better. Kepler is expected to run out of fuel and will cease operations sometime in the coming months. Engineers didn’t give Kepler a gas gauge, so they just have to watch for warning signs of low fuel and wait.

TESS will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Once in space, the spacecraft will fire its engines several times to position itself for an encounter with the moon’s gravity, which will push it into its final orbit.

From its vantage point in high-Earth orbit, above where satellites normally operate, TESS will have an unobstructed view of the sky. The telescope will spend two years staring into the cosmos, turning back only to beam home data, covering more area than Kepler did. Kepler could stare only at specific patches of sky at a time, but TESS will be able to see about 90 percent of it.

TESS will focus on exoplanets around the brightest, closest stars in the galaxy, the kind of target perfect for follow-up observations by other space observatories and ground-based telescopes. Astronomers predict TESS will discover more than 1,600 new exoplanets, including about 70 Earth-sized exoplanets.

Where Kepler and TESS leave off, powerful telescopes currently under construction pick up. In the next decade, observatories like the Extremely Large Telescope in Chile will take the study of exoplanets a step further. They will examine the atmospheres of other planets, looking for the molecules that we know can, under the right conditions, create a world suitable for life.

They may even tell us something about 51 Pegasi b. Last year, astrophysicists using an instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile said they detected traces of water in the atmosphere of the exoplanet. The object that kicked off the parade of planets more than two decades ago may hold more surprises for us still.

SpaceX blasts off NASA's new planet-hunter, TESS .
NASA on Wednesday blasted off its newest planet-hunting spacecraft, TESS, a $337 million satellite that aims to scan 85 percent of the skies for cosmic bodies where life may exist. "Three, two, one and liftoff!" said a NASA commentator as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) soared into the blue sky atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:51 pm (2251 GMT).The washing machine-sized spacecraft is built to search outside the solar system, scanning the nearest, brightest stars for signs of periodic dimming. These so-called "transits" may mean that planets are in orbit around them.

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