December 03, 2015

"Yesterday, results were released from an international team led by Alexandre Santerne from Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço, where they measured 129 objects-of-interest identified by Kepler for a period of five years."

Forbes They did spectroscopic analysis, which means they studied the individual wavelengths of light coming from the star, and expected a false positive rate of about 10-to-20%, which is what most scientists estimated. by Ethan Siegel

'But they found, instead, that over half (52%) of the planetary candidates were, in fact, eclipsing binaries, with another three candidates turning out to be brown dwarfs.

'This is really troubling! When we look at our own Solar System, even the innermost planet — tiny Mercury — takes 88 days to orbit the Sun. But so many of these giant worlds (or brown dwarfs, or even stars) are less than a tenth the distance to the main star as Mercury is from ours! As Santerne says:
After 20 years of exploring planets as big as Jupiter around other suns, we still have a lot of questions left open. For instance, we don’t understand what is the physical mechanism that forms Jupiter-like planets with orbital periods as little as a few days. It is like if our annual rotation around the Sun would last only a few days – imagine your age!
'But perhaps the biggest surprise is that the majority of these thought-to-be planets aren’t planets at all, but are massive stars (or almost stars) in their own right. Perhaps, with only one main star in our Solar System, we’re the ones who are the oddities, after all.'

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