• UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    No. 17 Oregon State Cruises Past UCSB https://t.co/CzMUcPZx5O
    9 hours 31 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Thank you to our firefighters, first responders, and all individuals who are working tirelessly to protect our Sant… https://t.co/Op4wafDFvf
    14 hours 5 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    The #RedCross emergency shelter at #UCSB is open and taking in #ThomasFire evacuees. https://t.co/91KqTnQZL6 https://t.co/91KqTnQZL6
    14 hours 58 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    A&L regretfully announces the cancellation of tonight’s Blind Boys of Alabama Holiday Show due to the latest condit… https://t.co/kWZGJYgC5p
    17 hours 23 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    A reminder about the #RedCross emergency shelter on the #UCSB campus for #ThomasFire evacuees. https://t.co/91KqTnQZL6
    19 hours 24 min ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    Six-time Grammy Award winners The Blind Boys of Alabama will bring some much-needed tidings of joy to our fire-scar… https://t.co/WYXObMouQP
    1 day 11 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    UCSB-LMU Women's Basketball Game Moved to LMU on Monday https://t.co/F4N1uaSWv3
    1 day 17 hours ago
  • AS_UCSB twitter avatar
    RT @tblucsb: Missed the 10:30 a.m. deadline? @AS_UCSB director Marisela Marquez will continue to work with students who need financial aid…
    1 day 17 hours ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Cotterill, Hauschild Earn All-American Honors https://t.co/VIIel1x2ZS
    1 day 19 hours ago

Multiple Planets Transiting Same Star Discovered by NASA's Kepler Mission

Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 17:00
Santa Barbara, CA

2310-1.jpg

Artist's rendition of Kepler Spacecraft. credit: NASA/Kepler mission/Wendy Stenzel

Artist's rendition of Kepler Spacecraft. credit: NASA/Kepler mission/Wendy Stenzel

NASA has announced the discovery of two Saturn-size planets, as well as one likely Earth-size planet, all transiting a star called Kepler 9. This is the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet transiting the same star.

The observations are published in this week's Science, in an article co-authored by Tim Brown, a UC Santa Barbara-affiliated scientist. The measurements were made using NASA's Kepler spacecraft and were confirmed by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

"This system of planets is a thrilling example of the Kepler mission's power," said Brown, scientific director of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Network, which is based in Goleta, Calif. and affiliated with UCSB.

"It is astounding that Kepler can show us, circling one star, a pair of planets that pull each other's orbits around, and also an object that is likely a planet not much bigger than the Earth," he said. "Rich systems like this one will be the best laboratories for understanding how planets form, and how planetary systems evolve."

The Kepler mission looks for the data signatures of planets by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars when planets transit or cross in front of them, according to NASA. In June of this year, mission scientists announced that the mission has identified more than 700 planet candidates, including five candidate systems that appear to have more than one transiting planet.

Launched in 2009, the Kepler space-borne telescope is designed to search the nearby region of our galaxy for planets the size of Earth, orbiting in the habitable zone of stars similar to our sun, explains NASA's Kepler Web site. Scientists describe the habitable zone as the region around a star where temperatures permit water to be liquid on a planet's surface.

NASA's Kepler Web site further notes that liquid water is considered essential for the existence of life as we know it. Therefore, the challenge for Kepler is to look at a large number of stars in order to statistically estimate the total number of Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars in the habitable zone. Kepler will survey more than 100,000 stars in our galaxy.

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network
Keppler Mission