Institute for Research on Exoplanets | University of Montreal | 2018 Sep 05
Young Canadian student at Université de Montréal discovers new exoplanet ideal for detailed characterization.
Wolf 503b, an exoplanet twice the size of Earth, has been discovered by an international team using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. The find is described in a new study led by Merrin Peterson ... Wolf 503b is about 145 light years from Earth in the Virgo constellation and orbits its star ten times closer than Mercury is to the Sun. Scientists are excited about this discovery because Wolf-503b presents an excellent opportunity to study a planet of this size in great detail.
“The discovery and confirmation of this new exoplanet was very rapid, thanks to the collaboration that my advisor, Björn Benneke, and I are a part of,” Peterson said. “In May, I just started my graduate studies when the latest release of Kepler K2 data came in. We were able to quickly analyze the new data quickly and found many interesting candidate exoplanets. Wolf 503b was one of them.”
The team identified distinct, periodic dips that appear in the light curve of the star when the planet passes in front of it. In order to better characterize the star and planet, the astronomers first obtained a spectrum of the host star at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. This confirmed that the star is an old ‘orange dwarf’, slightly less luminous than the Sun, and allowed a precise determination of the radius of both the star and its companion. Finally, to confirm the companion was indeed a planet and to avoid making a false positive identification, the team obtained high-resolution images from the Palomar Observatory and also examined archival data to rule out background stars and other companions in the same planetary system. ...
A 2 Earth Radius Planet Orbiting the Bright Nearby K-Dwarf Wolf 503 ~ Merrin S. Peterson et al
- arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:1806.03494 > 09 Jun 2018