Kepler, NASA’s planet hunting spacecraft, used by the astrophysicists has unearthed an “unusual duo” of extra solar planets.The strange pair of planets have orbits near each other’s doorstep. The bigger of the two planets emerges to be more than two times the magnitude of the full moon found in the second “odd” planet’s night sky.
These planets discovered by the astronomers have contrasting densities looming very near each other and a temperature ranging from 1200- 1300 degree Fahrenheit. The “overcrowding” planets are inhabitable because of their close proximity to their star. Journal science reports corroborate that they do not fall in the “habitable zone” as liquid water may not be found on their surface even though they have the closest orbits as reports confirm till now.
Eric Agol, a professor of astronomy at the University of Washington in Seattle and the head researcher Josh Carter, a Hubble fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass mapped out results collected from The Kepler Space telescope that gauges falls in the brightness of nearly 150,000 stars to rummage about for planets in space. He said "One of the most exciting things about this system is that maybe these planets are straddling a line".
The planet on the inside named Kepler -36b tracks around its host star in 13.8 days, the planet on the outside called Kepler 36c orbits around it every 16.2 days. At the closest point of crossing each other the distance between the duos is just about 1.9 million km /1.2 million miles. This is roughly 20 times nearer to each other than any other “planet couple” in the Solar system and is five times the distance between Earth and moon.
Kepler -36b has a rocky surface with a radius 1.5 times, and a mass 4.5 times, that of the Earth. Kepler-36c is a gigantic gaseous planet, 3.7 times the radius that holds its head high with eight times the mass, of our planet Earth. The planet has a “significant atmosphere” infused with hydrogen and helium gases.
The terrestrial odd pair of planets course around a star 750 light years from Earth. The star is of a higher temperature and a few billion years older, than our own sun. The two planets are positioned 1,200 light-years away from the Earth.
Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis is managed by Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Kepler’s mission development is by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
The Kepler spacecraft is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and is duly funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. It’s a strange discovery to dig up two unusual planets with unique compositions and orbits that are so “friendly and close”.