加拿大本科生发现四颗新行星

【加拿大本科生发现四颗新行星】加拿大UBC大学的一名天文系本科学生Michelle Kunimoto近日发现了四颗新行星,其中一颗可能具备宜居条件。该行星名为KOI-408.05,离地球3200光年,比海王星稍大,距离其恒星距离适中。此外可能它还拥有表面带有液态海洋的卫星,类似电影《阿凡达》中的潘多拉星球。

 

Four planets just outside of our solar system have been discovered by a university student in Canada, and one could hold the possibility for life.
The biggest of the four worlds is larger than Neptune, and the researchers say it lies within the habitable zone of its star.
Its size suggests the exoplanet may even have large moons that contain liquid water oceans, drawing comparisons to the fictional moon-world ‘Pandora.’

Until they’re independently confirmed, the four worlds discovered by Michelle Kunimoto of the University of British Columbia remain ‘planet candidates.’
The physics and astronomy student, who graduates today from UBC, sifted through data from Nasa’s Kelper spacecraft for months as a part of one of her courses, looking for anything other scientists may have missed.
Two of the objects discovered – KOI (Kepler Object of Interest) -488.02 and KOI-290.02 – are roughly the size of Earth, while a third named KOI -205.02 is about the size of Mercury.
It’s the fourth planet, however, that is the most remarkable.
KOI-408.05 sits 3,200 light years away from Earth, and its position relative to its star suggests temperatures may allow water, and even life.
The planet is slightly larger than Neptune, and may have similar features.

‘Like our own Neptune, it’s unlikely to have a rocky surface or oceans,’ said Kunimoto.
‘The exciting part is that like the large planets in our solar system, it could have large moons and these moons could have liquid water oceans.’
‘Pandora in the movie Avatar was not a planet, but a moon of a giant planet,’ said Jaymie Matthews, a UBC professor of astronomy.

For four years, Kepler observed roughly 150,000 stars in our galaxy, looking for fluctuations in brightness and collecting data.
These observations allowed Kunimoto to find the four potential planets.
‘A star is just a pinpoint of light so I’m looking for subtle dips in a star’s brightness every time a planet passes in front of it,’ said Kunimoto.
‘These dips are known as transits, and they’re the only way we can know the diameter of a planet outside the solar system.’
KOI 408.05 takes 637 days to orbit its sun – a period which has only been surpassed by 20 of the roughly 5,000 candidates Kepler has detected.
Spotting a planet with such a large orbit is a rare occurrence, as there are fewer transits to see.
The researchers have submitted their findings to the Astronomical Journal, and Kunimoto will move on to begin her master’s degree in the fall at UBC, where she will continue to look for alien worlds.

原文链接:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3618521/Canadian-student-finds-four-new-planets-one-support-life-Avatar-like-moon-water-oceans.html

 


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