Bright star reveals new Neptune-sized exoplanet
An international team of astronomers have discovered a new exoplanet, christened "Kepler-410A b." The planet is about the size of Neptune and orbits the brightest star in a double star system 425 light years from Earth.
By studying the star around which the planet revolves, they found that the star's rotation appears to be well-aligned with the planetary movement.
The object can be well-studied because the star is relatively bright, it can be seen if strong binoculars are used. The planet orbits one star of what appears to be a binary star, and the orbit is not circular but slightly eccentric.
The planet is a bit larger than Earth, with a radius of about 2.8 times that of our planet. With a period of around 18 days, it is much closer to its star than Earth is to our sun, and therefore unlikely to be suitable for life due to its high temperature.
Perturbations on the discovered planet indicate that there is likely another, as of yet unknown planet in the system
Kepler-410A b is interesting because it can be studied in detail. It has been observed for four years with the Kepler space telescope.
Because of the brightness of the star, it is a suitable target for further observations. The team has accurately measured the times of transit and found it doesn't cross the star exactly every 17.8 days, but is slightly perturbed: the planet is sometimes up to 15 minutes late or early. These perturbations indicate that there could be another planet present, slightly pulling or pushing Kepler-410A b around.
(Posted on 24-01-2014)