"Kepler Object of Interest" --A Major Step in the Search for a Twin Solar System (Today's Most Popular)
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January 31, 2014

"Kepler Object of Interest" --A Major Step in the Search for a Twin Solar System (Today's Most Popular)

 

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This past December, a team of European astrophysicists discovered the most extensive planetary system to date, orbiting star KOI-351. The star system has seven planets, more than in other known planetary systems arranged in a similar fashion to the eight planets in the Solar System, with small rocky planets close to the parent star and gas giant planets at greater distances.

Although the planetary system around KOI-351 is packed together more tightly, “We cannot stress just how important this discovery is. It is a big step in the search for a ‘twin’ to the Solar System, and thus also in finding a second Earth,” said Juan Cabrera, an astrophysicist at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof.

KOI is the abbreviation for ‘Kepler Object of Interest’, which means the star was observed by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, between 2008 and 2013, and classified as a candidate for the existence of exoplanets. At present, KOI-351 is the star with the most extrasolar planets, or exoplanets for short. The star is 2500 light years away from Earth.

Astrophysicists around the world have been searching for a star system similar to our own for a long time. Now, the team led by Cabrera has taken a major step in this direction. Three of the seven planets in orbit around the star KOI-351 were discovered in recent years, and have periods of 331, 211 and 60 days, similar to those of Earth, Venus and Mercury.

The planets discovered by Cabrera and his team are even closer to the star and have orbital periods of 7, 9, 92 and 125 days. The outermost planet orbits the star at a distance of about 150 million kilometres, or roughly one Astronomical Unit (AU), so the entire planetary system is compressed into a space corresponding to the distance between Earth and the Sun.

“No other planetary system shows such a similar ‘architecture’ to that of our cosmic home as does the planetary system around KOI-351,” says Cabrera. “Just as in the Solar System, rocky planets with roughly the size of Earth are found close to the star, while, ‘gas giants’ similar to Jupiter and Saturn are found as you move away from the star.”

The development of a special computer algorithm enabled Cabrera and his team to detect the four new planets around KOI-351 by filtering out the light curves that reveal the ‘transit’ of a planet across its parent star from the Kepler measurements. The discovery was confirmed shortly afterwards by a US group led by Joseph R. Schmitt of Yale University, by visual inspection of the light curves recorded by Kepler.

“The resonances of the planetary orbits are another interesting feature of this system,” explains Szilárd Csizmadia, a member of the team. Resonance occurs when two or more orbiting bodies exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on one another. “Resonances also play an important role in the Solar System; for example, the moons of Jupiter. So KOI-351 is a gold mine for all researchers investigating planetary formation and the stability of multi-body systems.”

The resonances in the planetary system of KOI-351, however, greatly complicated the search for the planets. Due to the strong interaction between the planets, the signals sought in the Kepler data were not strictly periodic, but showed strong variations in the orbital periods.

“The orbital period of planet KOI-351g varies by about a day between consecutive transits during the observations, said Rudolf Dvorak of the University of Vienna. "Disturbances of this kind have been noted previously, but so far only with maximum deviations of a few minutes.”

After the two successful space telescopes CoRoT and Kepler were decommissioned this year, planet hunters are now hopeful with regard to the pending decision on the PLATO mission. PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars) will build on the experience of CoRoT and Kepler in the search for planetary systems around nearby bright stars, and thus allow for extensive follow-up observations. This could allow the determination of the radius (as in the system KOI-351) and the mass of the planets, as well as a first look at the composition of the planet.

Furthermore, it would even be possible to examine the atmosphere of the planets in such systems, which may give rise to indications of the activity of living organisms. This would be a major breakthrough in search for a ’second Earth’. The European Space Agency will make a decision on the PLATO mission in early 2014.

Until now, 771 stars with planets have been identified. However, most of the exoplanets discovered so far are ’solitary’. Only 170 stars are known to be orbited by more than one planet. Large planetary systems are the exception – not because they do not exist, but because they are particularly difficult to detect and characterise.

At present, only a handful of systems with at least five planets have been confirmed, including planets KOI-351b and 351c were confirmed. They are only 31 percent and 19 percent larger than the Earth. To detect such small planets, a special algorithm was developed by Cabrera. Besides the size of these planets, what is remarkable is the 5:4 orbital resonance. In the time it takes planet b to complete five orbits, planet c has completes exactly four orbits. Similar resonances are found among the inner moons of Jupiter.

Planet KOI- 351d was already known. It has an orbital period of 60 days. Its diameter is 2.9 times that of Earth’s. It is therefore likely a ’super-Earth’ or a ‘mini-Neptune’. Since the mass is not known, it is not yet possible to classify this planet.

The planet KOI-351e is also a new discovery and is roughly the same size as KOI- 351d (2.9 times the diameter of Earth). We know that neighbouring planets in planetary systems have similar sizes, as we see in the Solar System (Neptune and Uranus, or Venus and Earth). This has now been observed for the first time in exoplanets, and underlines the similarity of this system to our own.

The large gas giants KOI-351g and 351h (about 8 and 11 times the diameter of Earth) are outer planets and have long orbital periods (211 and 331 days). This is very reminiscent of the Solar System, where there also four rocky planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) and two gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn ) with diameters 10 and 8 times that of Earth.

The Daily Galaxy via In the Astrophysical Journal, DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin-Adlershof and the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und- Raumfahrt; DLR).

Comments

SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing net energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal.

The law of entropy doesn't allow the universe to be eternal. If the universe were eternal, everything, including time (which modern science has shown is as physical as mass and space), would have become totally entropied by now and the entire universe would have ended in a uniform heat death a long, long time ago. The fact that this hasn't happened already is powerful evidence for a beginning to the universe.

Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe had a beginning and came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That's not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn't mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn't mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

Some things don’t need experiment or scientific proof. In law there is a dictum called prima facie evidence. It means “evidence that speaks for itself.” Of course, in the complexities of human society and relationships, prima facie may not always be what it seems.

An example of a true prima facie would be if you discovered an elaborate sand castle on the beach. You don’t have to experiment to know that it came by design and not by the chance forces of wind and water.

If you discovered a romantic letter or message written in the sand, you don’t have to experiment to know that it was by design and not because a stick randomly carried by wind put it there. You naturally assume that an intelligent and rational being was responsible.

I encourage all to read my popular Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM

Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

Babu G. Ranganathan*
(B.A. Bible/Biology)

Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

*I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I've been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis "Who's Who in The East" for my writings on religion and science.

As people of the twenty-first century we still believe that the world is flat, we are the center of the universe, and that we are the crown of creation. We constantly scan the heavens for a sign of our mirror image of ourselves in the reflecting pool of life. We are constantly looking for the proof that there is life outside our "lone" planet, and that these alien-creatures would look just like us; speaking perfect English and having a life similar to our own. The concept of infinite-universes expands our "solitary universe to infinity and beyond, for we are replicated in infinite ways, circumstances and variations. In search of a solar system that is a mirror reflection with the right number of planets and configuration of our own, with a third planet in the Goldilocks zone with the exact history and evolution. It would be a planet made up of aliens you would let your daughter marry and bring home to dinner (guess whose coming to dinner). No blue people and aliens need apply.

Hmmm... Wow!! I never thought of it like that!

Earth-like planets are rare: 1 in a million
Life's even more rare: maybe 1 in a billion
Complex life, super rare: perhaps 1 in a trillion

Intelligent life would have to be so special that 1 in quadrillion or even quintillion might be low-balling the odds.

Since there aren't that many stars in the universe, intelligent life is simply impossible without Divine Intervention. Now, I don't have stats to back that up, but I just tried counting to 10^15 on my toes and I'm pretty sure there can't be that many stars. Estimating upwards at 1 billion galaxies with 1 billion stars in each only gives us 1 x 10^18, so the odds look even worse for anyone who doesn't check my figures.

Plus, "God made it all" is such a nice, neat theory of everything (if we can all just replace our collective desire for proof with faith in The AllahMighty).

Finally, the thought of being reunited with loved ones in the eternal bliss of an afterlife... whew, well that'll give the hardest criminal a warm fuzzy feeling (so long as they truly repent!).

Wait a minute...

Why would humans "scan the heavens for a sign of [...] life" if they truly believed they're the "crown of creation"? I'd suspect humans who are trying to cement themselves as "super duper special" would be opposed to Space Exploration.

Also, I think those human-like aliens are mostly a Hollywood phenomenon - because it's a lot cheaper and easier for producers when an alien is human-like. For the same reason, nearly all the worlds in the Stargate SG-1 series looked identical to Earth - (the woods of Canada to be exact).

So many questions I have now...

Does God wonder where s/he came from?

Why does an entity so all-knowing, all-powerful as God obsess over personal sex lives?

Doesn't 'God' explain the cosmos the way 'magic' explains pulling rabbits out of a hat?

My brain hurts.


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