Erratic exoplanet Kepler-413b has a wobbly orbit

Feb 6, 2014

Scientist and astronomers are discovering a large number of new planets using the Kepler Space Telescope. One of the latest planets discovered by the space telescope is called Kepler-413b. The planet is rather baffling to scientists because it has a wildly erratic orbit making the planet very wobbly.

Whereas the Earth has only 23.5-degrees of wobble (called rotational precession in science terms) over 26,000 years, Kepler-413b has 30-degrees of wobble over only 11 years. That wobbly orbit makes the planet very hard to observe from Earth.

The planet is 2,300 light years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. It orbits a star pair consisting of one orange and one red dwarf star. The planet is also tilted 2.5-degrees compared to the plane of the two sun's orbits. That erratic orbit means that the planet appears to bob up and down.

The scientists looked at data on the planet for 1500 days and saw three transits of the parent stars in the first 180 days. The team then saw one transit every 66 days. The scientists then went 800 days with no transits at all, followed by five transits in a row. That odd transit pattern suggests a wildly erratic orbit. The next time the team believes the planet will be observable from Earth will be 2020 due to its wildly erratic orbit making it unable to be seen from the Earth until then.

SOURCE: The Register

Must Read Bits & Bytes