Science & Technology

Citizen scientist discovers giant Jupiter-like planet in NASATESS data

This figure shows a Jupiter-like exoplanet called TOI-2180b. It was discovered in data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Exploration Satellite. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / R.Hurt

Tom Jacobs of Bellevue, Washington loves treasure hunting. Since 2010, former US Navy officers have participated in an online volunteer project that is accessible to all interested (“citizen scientists”). NASA Telescope data on exoplanets and signs of planets beyond the solar system.

Jacobs is now orbiting a star of the same mass as the Sun, helping to discover a giant gaseous planet about 379 light-years away from Earth. The Jupiter-A planet of size is special to astronomers because it is 261 days longer than many known gas giants outside the solar system.The results also suggest that the planet is just a short distance from that star. Venus From the sun.The survey results have been published in Astronomical Journal It was announced at the virtual press event of the American Astronomical Society on January 13.

Discovering this planet and identifying its size and mass required extensive collaboration between professional astronomers and citizen scientists like Jacobs. Astronomer and studyer at the University of California, Riverside.

“The discovery and publication of TOI-2180b was a great group effort to show that professional astronomers and skilled citizen scientists can work together well,” said Jacobs. “It’s the best synergy.”

How the discovery happened

The newly discovered planetary signature was hidden in data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Exploration Satellite. TESS.. Scientists use TESS data to look for changes in the brightness of nearby stars. This may indicate the presence of orbiting planets.

Jacobs is part of a group of civil scientists looking for new planets, examining plots of TESS data, and showing changes in star brightness over time. Professional astronomers use algorithms to automatically scan tens of thousands of data points from stars, but these citizen scientists use a program called LcTools created by Alan R. Schmitt to telescope. Visually inspect the data in. That’s why Jacobs’ group, which includes a few citizen scientists and two veteran astronomers, calls themselves a visual research group. Many of them met while working on Planet Hunters, a NASA-funded citizen science project through Zooniverse, which focused on data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.

On February 1, 2020, Jacobs happened to notice a plot showing that the star light from TOI-2180 dimmed by less than 0.5% and returned to previous brightness levels in 24 hours. This can be explained by the orbiting planets. From our point of view, it was said to “pass” when passing in front of the stars. Scientists can estimate the size of a planet by measuring the amount of light that darkens as it passes, and combine it with other measurements to estimate its density. However, transits can only be seen if the stars and their planets are lined up with the telescopes looking for them.

Tom Jacobs

Tom Jacobs, a citizen scientist working with professional scientists to search for extrasolar planets at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii. Credits: Tom Jacobs

A graph showing the light of a star over time is called a “light curve”. The Visual Survey Group has warned the collaborators of two professional scientists, Paul Dalba of the University of California, Riverside and Diana Dragomir, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, that this light curve is potentially interesting.

“This new discovery also pushes the boundaries of the types of planets that can be extracted from TESS observations,” said Dragomir. “TESS wasn’t specifically designed to find such long-orbiting exoplanets, but our team is still digging out these rare gems with the help of citizen scientists. . “

Computer algorithms used by professional astronomers are designed to search for planets by identifying multiple transit events from a single star. Therefore, a visual inspection of a citizen scientist is very useful when only one transit is available. This is called a “single transit event” because it is the only instance of TOI-2180 b star dimming in this dataset.

“The manual work they have done is very important and very impressive, because it is actually difficult to write code that can reliably identify a single passing event, traversing millions of light curves. “Dalba said. “This is one of the areas where humans are still beating the code.”

But how can the team rule out other explanations for the short dip in starlight? Did they be sure they found the planet? They will need follow-up.

Fortunately, Dalba was able to employ an automated planet finder at the Lick Observatory in California. “I use that telescope to measure the wobbling of a star and, if it’s a planet, determine how big this planet is,” he said. The research team also used the Keck I Telescope at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii to perform some of these measurements when the Lick Observatory was exposed to the threat of wildfires.

After 27 hours of observations over 500 days, Dalba et al. Observed the gravitational pull of the planet to the stars. This allowed us to calculate the mass of the planet and estimate its range of potential orbits. Still, they wanted to observe the passage of the planet as it returned to confirm its orbit. Unfortunately, there was so much uncertainty about when the planet would cross the star’s face again, so it would be difficult to find a second transit event.

In August 2020, Dalba conducted observation campaigns at 14 locations on three continents using telescopes by both professional astronomers and citizen scientists. To support the campaign, Dalba camps for five nights in Joshua Tree National Park, California, with two portable amateur telescopes. The collaboration yielded 55 datasets in 11 days.

Ultimately, none of these telescopes confidently detected the planet. Still, there was no clear detection during this period, so there is a boundary in the length of the orbit, indicating a period of about 261 days. Using that estimate, they predict that TESS will see the planet pass through it again in February 2022.

About the earth

TOI-2180 b is about three times the mass of Jupiter, but has the same diameter, so it is denser than Jupiter. This caused scientists to wonder if it was formed in a different way than Jupiter.

Another clue about the formation of the planet may be in it. Through computer models, they determined that the new planet could have as many as 105 elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. “There are many,” says Dalba. “It’s more than we suspect we are in Jupiter.”

Astronomers still have a lot to learn about the range of planets there. Approximately 4,800 exoplanets have been identified, but it is believed that there are billions of planets in our galaxy. New discoveries show that some giant planets have much heavier elements than other planets.

In our solar system, the giant Jupiter orbits the Sun every 12 years.for Saturn, “Year” is 29 years. There is no giant planet like TOI-2180b between the Earth and the Sun. But outside the solar system, astronomers have discovered dozens of exoplanets that are even larger than Jupiter, much closer to the stars, and even closer to Mercury’s orbit.

The average temperature is about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, TOI-2180 b is warmer than Earth’s room temperature and warmer than the outer planets of the solar system, including Jupiter and Saturn. However, TOI-2180b is unusually chilly compared to the array of passing giant exoplanets that astronomers have discovered to orbit other stars.

“This is a wonderful stepping stone between most of the giant exoplanets we have found and then the really cold Jupiter and Saturn,” Dalba said.

What’s next

When TESS observes the stars again in February, Dalba and citizen scientists are keen to get the data and dive again. If they find the planet’s signature and confirm the period of 261 days, it will give more meaning to the data from their world. Campaign to find it in 2020.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, Which Release It may be possible to observe this planet and its atmosphere on December 25th. But there is another reason why Dalba is so excited about the features of Webb. Given that Jupiter has rings and satellites in our own solar system, we can use Webb to look for small objects orbiting TOI-2180b.

So far, no rings or satellites have been reliably found outside the solar system, but one reason is that many exoplanets have been found very close to those stars, and their gravity is such. It is possible to strip an object. The TOI-2180b, far away from the host star, may offer an interesting opportunity for such exploration. “I think this is a fun system in the future,” says Dalba.

When not pursuing a hobby of searching for planets, civic scientist Jacobs works with nonprofits to help people with disabilities find employment in their communities.

“With pure joy and interest in advancing science, we are dedicated to investigating data for hours each day,” said Jacobs, a member of the Visual Research Group. In summary, the team co-authored more than 68 peer-reviewed scientific papers, including the discovery of “exoplanets” or comets that pass outside the solar system across the star’s face.

“We love contributing to science,” Jacobs said. “And I love this kind of surveying. I know I’m in a new undiscovered territory never seen before by humans.”

See also: “TESS-Keck Survey. VIII. Paul A. Dalba, Stephen R. Kane, Diana Dragor Gir, Stephen Villanueva Jr., Karen A. Collins, Thomas Lee Jacobs, Darryl M. LaCourse, Robert Gagliano, Martti H. Kristiansen, Mark Omohundro, Hans M. Schwengeler, Ivan A. Terentev, Andrew Vanderburg, Benjamin Fulton, Howard Isaacson, Judah Van Zandt, Andrew W. Howard, Daniel P. Thorngren, Steve B. Howell, Natalie M. Butara, Ashley Chongtos, Ivan JM Crossfield, Courtney D. Dressing, Daniel Huber, Eric A. Petigra, Paul Robertson, Alpitaroy, Lauren M. Weiss, Isaacson, Corey Beard, Casey L. Brinkman, Stephen Jacobs, Michelle L. Hill , Jack Lubin, Andrew W. Mayo, Teo Mocnik, Joseph M. Akana Murphy, Alex S. Polanski, Malena Rice, Lee J. Rosenthal, Ryan A. Rubenzahl, Nicholas Scarsdale, Emma V. Turtelboom, Dakotah Tyler, Paul Benni, Pat Boyce, Thomas M. Esposito, E. Giardin, Didier Laloum, Pablo Lewin, Christopher R. Mann, Franck Marchis, Richard P. Schwarz, Gregor Srdoc, Jana Steuer, Thirupathi Sivarani, Athira Unni, Nora L. Eisner, Tara Fetherolf, Zhexing Li, Xinyu Yao, Joshua Pepper, George R. Ricker, Roland Vanderspek, David W. Latham, S. Seager, Joshua N. Winn, Jon M. Jenkins , Christopher J. Burke, Jason D. Eastman, Michael B. Lund, David R. Rodriguez, Pamela Rowden, Eric B. Ting, Jesus Noel Villageñor, January 13, 2022. Astronomical Journal..
DOI: 10.3847 / 1538-3881 / ac415b

Citizen science details

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About TESS

TESS is the mission of NASA Astrophysics Explorer, MIT Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. Astrophysics Center | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than 12 universities, research institutes and observatories around the world participate in this mission.

The National Science Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Astronomy and Astrophysics has contributed to this research.

Citizen scientist discovers giant Jupiter-like planet in NASATESS data Citizen scientist discovers giant Jupiter-like planet in NASATESS data

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