Exoplanet Kepler-7b Clouds are Mapped for the First Time

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posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 04:01 PM
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Exiting news has been released that astronomers have managed to map the cloud formations of giant Exoplanet Kepler-7b using observations from the Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes over a three year period , this is the first time such a feat has been accomplished .
Kepler-7b is bigger than Jupiter but has a lower mass that scientists say is about the same as polystyrene


"By observing this planet with Spitzer and Kepler for more than three years, we were able to produce a very low-resolution 'map' of this giant, gaseous planet," said co-author Brice-Olivier Demory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, US.



So the team used Spitzer to gather further clues about the planet's atmosphere. They determined that light from the planet's star was bouncing off cloud tops located on the west side of Kepler-7b.

"Kepler-7b reflects much more light than most giant planets we've found, which we attribute to clouds in the upper atmosphere," said Thomas Barclay from Nasa's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, US, who works on the Kepler telescope team.

"Unlike those on Earth, the cloud patterns on this planet do not seem to change much over time - it has a remarkably stable climate."


Nasa says the findings are an early step towards using similar techniques to study the atmospheres of exoplanets that are more like Earth in composition and size.

Paul Hertz, director of Nasa's astrophysics division in Washington DC commented: "We're at a point now in exoplanet science where we are moving beyond just detecting [them], and into the exciting science of understanding them."
www.bbc.co.uk...


I'm still holding out hope that within my lifetime we will gain the technology to be able to image Exoplanets directly to a detail level where it looks like a planet and not just a dot , I believe that is getting closer step by step


edit on 1-10-2013 by gortex because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 04:35 PM
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Amazing find. S&F. Would love to see more about this stuff.



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 04:42 PM
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reply to post by gortex
 


I think your dream has already come true. Remember the NAVY gave NASA space telescopes that were more powerful than what Hubble was a few months ago.

That means the NAVY has much better now. My bet is that they can now observe exo-planet' surfaces with a good level of detail already.

But no proof, just a hunch. Let's hope we see it in our life time indeed!



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 05:19 PM
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Amazing ,are these actual photographs of this planet?..



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 05:22 PM
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reply to post by 0bserver1
 


Unfortunately not it's an artists impression comparing it to Jupiter for a size reference and showing how its clouds would look ... but hopefully one day it will be




edit on 1-10-2013 by gortex because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 05:29 PM
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Remarkable science.

It should be noted that the technique does not involve any direct observation of clouds. It's based on changes in the overall light reflected from the planet. Detailed analysis of the spectrum of that light indicates that clouds are the most likely cause for the reflection. It also shows that the spectrum changes with the rotation of the planet, indicating that the clouds remain more or less in the same place above the "surface" of the planet. Sort of like Jupiter's red spot.
edit on 10/1/2013 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 05:41 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 





indicating that the clouds remain more or less in the same place above the "surface" of the planet. Sort of like Jupiter's red spot.

Do you think that would be due to the workings of the planet or its proximity to its star given the planets 5 day orbital period ?

edit on 1-10-2013 by gortex because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 05:43 PM
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reply to post by gortex
 


no fricking way!

amazing!

Our solar system is like a baby compared to the rest!



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 05:50 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


I always thought that this telescope functioned on Doppler effect ? and that the light of the star was measurable of how many planets were passing through ?

But they can actually measure the reflecting light of the planet too?



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 06:05 PM
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reply to post by gortex
 

Wild speculation? Something similar to the red spot.
Too bad it's a gas giant. It would be fun to imagine an enormous mountain range producing the clouds.



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 06:07 PM
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reply to post by 0bserver1
 


But they can actually measure the reflecting light of the planet too?
Apparently so. But I think it's more a matter of figuring out what part of the spectrum of the entire system (star and planets) comes from the planet. I don't think the planet can be resolved as a separate body from the star.
edit on 10/1/2013 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2013 @ 10:30 PM
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Your wish came through.

They manage to mask the light from the parents star, and focus on the light reflected by the planet.
When the light reflects form the surface of the planet, the atmosphere causes it to bend and get polarized.

They are able to detect the light and catch, and developed a system, where it can be identified and even get a spectral analyzing of it.

I recently watched this on a vid. But they said that this new system would be installed into the next large ground telescope.
They never mentioned they could already do the same thing, with the tech already in use.

Amazing.

Forgive me if my explanation isn't completely right... This is what I remember. I'll search for the vid.


Three planetary researchers from SRON and the University of Amsterdam, Theodora Karalidi, Daphne Stam and Joop Hovenier, have calculated that we can determine whether clouds on an exoplanet contain liquid water by measuring the planet’s polarisation signal. Polarisation describes the direction in which light waves vibrate. Most stars emit unpolarised light: light waves have no preferred direction of vibration. When starlight is reflected by a planet, it usually becomes polarised: the reflected light waves vibrate in a preferred direction.


source

I can't find the vid.

I did find some other interesting stuff on the matter.

openaccess.leidenuniv.nl...

www.polarisation.eu...

www.lpi.usra.edu...

I hope that covers it.






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