More Help on the Way for Verifying ExoPlanets in Kepler

The HARPS-N spectrograph will be installed on the 3.6-meter Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands. Credit: INAF

With the Kepler spacecraft finding over 1,200 planetary candidates, the next step is verifying their actual status. That will be a big job, but help is on the way. In April 2012, a new spectrograph called HARPS-North will come online to help confirm and characterize Kepler’s planetary candidates. It will be mounted on the 3.6-meter Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) in the Canary Islands.

“The Kepler mission gives us the size of a planet, based on the amount of light it blocks when it passes in front of its star. Now we need to measure planetary masses, so that we can calculate the densities. That will allow us to distinguish rocky planets and water worlds from ones dominated by atmospheres of hydrogen and helium,” explained astronomer David Latham from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

(…) Read the rest of More Help on the Way for Verifying ExoPlanets in Kepler’s Dataset (344 words)

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(C) nancy for Universe Today, 2011. | Permalink | 2 comments | Add to del.icio.us Post

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