NASA on exoplanet discovery

NASA is having a news conference to present new findings on exoplanets (planets orbiting stars) at 1 pm Wednesday EST, which is 7 am Thursday NZ time.


NASA to Host News Conference on Discovery Beyond Our Solar System

NASA will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 22, to present new findings on planets that orbit stars other than our sun, known as exoplanets. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Details of these findings are embargoed by the journal Nature until 1 p.m.

Limited seating is available in the NASA TV studio for media who would like to attend in person at the agency’s Headquarters at 300 E Street SW in Washington. Media unable to attend in person may ask questions by telephone. To attend in person or participate by phone, media must send an email with their name, affiliation and telephone number to Dwayne Brown at dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov by noon Feb. 22.

The briefing participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium
  • Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California
  • Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore
  • Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about exoplanets will be held following the briefing at 3 p.m. with scientists available to answer questions in English and Spanish.


An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun. The first scientific detection of an exoplanet was in 1988. However, the first confirmed detection came in 1992; since then, and as of 15 February 2017, there have been 3,577 exoplanets in 2,687 planetary systems and 602 multiple planetary systems confirmed.

HARPS (since 2004) has discovered about a hundred exoplanets while the Kepler space telescope (since 2009) has found more than two thousand. Kepler has also detected a few thousand candidate planets, of which about 11% may be false positives.

On average, there is at least one planet per star, with a percentage having multiple planets.

About 1 in 5 Sun-like stars  have an “Earth-sized” planet in the habitable zone.

Assuming there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, one can hypothesize that there are 11 billion potentially habitable Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way, rising to 40 billion if planets orbiting the numerous red dwarfs are included.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exoplanet

I can’t find anything but speculation about what the news might be, but here is a bit of a teaser.

CNET: NASA teases a major new exoplanet discovery

This week NASA will announce new findings about planets orbiting other stars that look to be the biggest exoplanet news since last year’s announcement of a potentially habitable exoplanet around our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri.

We’ve seen the research, and while we can’t share details yet, let’s just say it could very easily provide us with new settings for many future works of science fiction.

SiliconRepublic: What we know about NASA’s major exoplanet announcement

As for tomorrow’s announcement, some of the names expected to attend the conference might offer a few hints.

One of those names is Belgian astronomer Michael Gillon from the University of Liège, who has spent years studying exoplanets using TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60cm telescope.

In May of last year, Gillon and his fellow researchers published a paper in Nature – the same journal that this latest mysterious announcement will be included in – announcing the discovery of three planets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star, just 40 light years from Earth.

Ok, that doesn’t tell us much, but whatever NASA announces should be interesting given the build up.

 

Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. Conspiratoor

     /  22nd February 2017

    [Deleted this and follow up comments which continued off topic. PG]

    Reply
    • MaureenW

       /  22nd February 2017

      I didn’t think it was off topic – It was connected

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  22nd February 2017

        I didn’t get the opportunity to make that judgement, but knowing C’s dry wit, I most likely would have had a chuckle….

        Reply
  2. patupaiarehe

     /  22nd February 2017

    This is certainly interesting. They have obviously confirmed an exoplanet, by means other than usual (which for those who don’t know, involves observing regular variations in the apparent magnitude of a star). Which means it is most likely pretty close. Keep us posted please Pete.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s