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Saturday, April 20, 2013

 

Kepler-62 and Kepler-69, a Bonanza of Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone.

The Kepler-62 system, simulated in Celestia, click to embiggen.The view looking from the Super-Earth Kepler-62e, looking to the Inner solar system and the Water World 62f, the smallest world currently known in a habitable zone, beyond. Simulated in Celestia, click to embiggen.

The plethora of exoplanets pouring out of the Kepler mission keeps amazing me. As you know, I'm quite an exoplanet fan, but I just can't keep up with the discoveries. As of today there are 866 confirmed exoplanets, and Kepler has 2,740 (yes, you read that right) planetary candidates that need to be worked through and confirmed.

The latest batch are the systems  Kepler-62 and Kepler -69. Kepler-62 hosts 5 planets, and Kepler-69 two. Gone are the days when exoplanets were all Super-Jupiters or Jupiter sized, we are picking up lots of  Terrestrial sized planets now (even if they are mostly Super-Earths).

Importantly, both these systems host planets in their respective habitable zones. Kepler-62 has two planets in its habitable zone and Kepler-69 has one. Kepler 62-f is the smallest known world in a habitable zone, and Kepler 69-c is the smallest planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star (Kepler 62 is substantially smaller and cooler than the Sun).

While these worlds are similar in size to Earth (although bigger), it looks like the Kepler 62 planets are Water Worlds, occupied by a global ocean rather than having continents like Earth.

As well, Kepler-62-c is the smallest exoplanet found yet, about the size of Mars (but much hotter).

For more detailed discussion of the meaning of these exoplanets see the Kepler press release (with link to the published paper) and this Australian ABC report. Nancy Atkinson at Universe today has a nice image and animation roundup of the new systems.

Me, what can I contribute? As usual I've made Celestia files. I've just done the Kepler-62 system, I'll do Kepler-69 later. One for the star (which isn't in the default files) and one for the planet.

Copy the data here to plain text files (Kepler62.stc and Kepler62Planets.ssc), copy both of the files to the Celestia extras folder. The star is around 1200 lightyears away in Lyra, so in the Celestia star browser, you will have to show around 500 stars to see Kepler-62 in the list.
I'll have to update my Celestia Exoplanet Tour as well.

===============Kepler62.stc======================================
#Kepler survey

"Kepler-62:2MASS J18525105+4520595:KIC 9002278"
{
RA 283.2125
Dec 45.3497
Distance 1200 # light years from published data
SpectralType "K2V"
AppMag 14.0
}
=======================================================
==================Kepler62Planets.ssc============================
"b" "Kepler-62"

# Neptune like world?

{
    Texture "exo-class4.*"
    NightTexture "exo-class4night.*"


Mass 9 # M.sin(i) = 9 Earth
Radius 8355.18 # 1.31 Earth radi, from paper

#InfoURL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-62b"

EllipticalOrbit {
Period 0.015646374
SemiMajorAxis 0.0553
Eccentricity 0
ArgOfPericenter 267 #guess
Inclination 89.2
#MeanAnomaly 271
}

# likely to be in captured synchronous rotation
}

AltSurface "limit of knowledge" "Kepler-62/b"
{
    Texture "extrasolar-lok.*"

}

"c" "Kepler-62"

# Mercury-Like world

{
    Texture "mercury.*"


Mass 4 # M.sin(i) = 4 Earth
Radius 3444.12 # 0.54 Earth radi, from paper

#InfoURL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-62c"

EllipticalOrbit {
Period 0.034062959
SemiMajorAxis 0.0929
Eccentricity 0.0
ArgOfPericenter 267 #guess
Inclination 89.7
#MeanAnomaly 271
}

# likely to be in captured synchronous rotation
}

AltSurface "limit of knowledge" "Kepler-62/c"
{
Texture "extrasolar-lok.*"
}

"d" "Kepler-62"

# Neptune like world

{
    Texture "exo-class4.*"
    NightTexture "exo-class4night.*"


Mass 14 # M.sin(i) = 14 Earth
Radius 12437.1 # 1.95 Earth radi, from paper

#InfoURL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-62d"

EllipticalOrbit {
Period 0.049729669
SemiMajorAxis 0.120
Eccentricity 0.0
ArgOfPericenter 267 #guess
Inclination 89.7
#MeanAnomaly 271
}

# likely to be in captured synchronous rotation
}

AltSurface "limit of knowledge" "Kepler-62/d"
{
    Texture "extrasolar-lok.*"
}

"e" "Kepler-62"

# earth like, possibly water world

{
    Texture "exo-class4.*"
    NightTexture "exo-class4night.*"


Mass 36 # M.sin(i) = 36 Earth, upper limit of theoretical range
Radius 10268.58 # 1.61 Earth radi, from paper

#InfoURL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-62e"

EllipticalOrbit {
Period 0.335072935
SemiMajorAxis 0.427
Eccentricity 0.0
ArgOfPericenter 267 #guess
Inclination 89.98
#MeanAnomaly 271
}

# likely to be in captured synchronous rotation
}

AltSurface "limit of knowledge" "Kepler-62/e"
{
Texture "venussurface.*"
OverlayTexture "ganymede-lok-mask.png"
}

"f" "Kepler-62"

# earth like world

{
    Texture "ganymede.*"
    # Using Ganymede as it may be giant ice world
        # NightTexture "gasgiantnight.jpg"


Mass 35 # M.sin(i) = 35 Earth theoretical maximum
Radius 8992.98 # 1.41 Earth radi, from paper

#InfoURL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-62f"

EllipticalOrbit {
Period 0.731790854
SemiMajorAxis 0.718
Eccentricity 0.0
ArgOfPericenter 267 #guess
Inclination 89.9
#MeanAnomaly 271
}

# likely to be in captured synchronous rotation
}

AltSurface "limit of knowledge" "Kepler-62/f"
{
    Texture "ganymede.*"
    OverlayTexture "ganymede-lok-mask.png"
}

==============================================================

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Comments:
This is awesome! Thanks.
 
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