5 Alien Worlds: Planetary System around K2-138

1541 Views | Published on 5th Feb, 2018

Over the three years of the K2 mission, 287,309 stars have been observed, and tens of thousands more roll in every few months. So how do astronomers sift through all that data?

A new discovery of a planetary system around the star K2-138 containing five planets that contain ice and gas, and maybe even be rocky is a result of observations with the K2 (Kepler extension) mission. Data from the K2 mission is made available to everyone through Zooniverse, a citizen science portal. A software package containing a signal-detection algorithm identifies potential transit signals in the K2 data. Those targets are made available to the public to peruse and find interesting objects. The website contains a training module so that interested individuals can quickly learn what to search for.
The new, tightly packed planetary system contains planets between the size of Earth and Neptune that are circular, compared to our own solar system where the planets have elliptical orbits. The orbits of the planets are short - between 2 and 13 days! This means they are close to their parent K-type star and therefore are quite hot.

Join Tony Darnell and Carol Christian during Afternoon Astronomy Coffee on February 8, 2018 at 3PM Eastern (Daylight) Time as they discuss with Jessie Christiansen (CalTech) and collaborators about the new planetary system and the citizen science effort.

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