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(NASA) Kepler Telescope Report: Around a billion years ago, a massive yellow star exploded in the constellation of Cancer and if it hadn’t been looking in the right place at the right time a billion years later, we’d never know about it #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Aug.10: But in 2017, the now-defunct telescope captured the event from beginning to end in unprecedented detail: We’ve always missed the very, very start of a [supernova] because it is so exceedingly difficult to capture that,” said lead author Patrick Armstrong, a PhD candidate at the Australian National University (ANU).

#AceDailyNews reports that an entire supernova shock wave captured in detail by Kepler space telescope and the discovery of the event by a team of international astronomers trawling through Kepler data appears online ahead of publishing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

As a massive star reaches the end of its life, it burns up all its fuel.

It gets very bright, then it dims as it puffs up and starts to collapse, sending out a shock wave that triggers a cataclysmic explosion. A core collapse supernova animation(Gfycat)

The initial brightening phase had been captured before by Kepler in 2016

But this is the first time the entire shock wave during the dimming phase in the lead-up to the explosion has been captured in detail, Mr Armstrong said.

“Stars will live for millions and millions of years.

“They will explode in a matter of weeks and the shock cooling curve only lasts a matter of days.

“So over their millions of years of lifetime, we really have to capture a few days.”  

The international team saw the distinctive rise and fall of the event occur over a three-day period in the data captured by Kepler.

Right place, right time

The Kepler space telescope, which was retired in 2018, was designed to stare at slabs of the sky to search for distant planets.

But because it spent up to 40 days taking photo after photo of the same patch of sky before moving to the next patch, it was perfect for finding objects that suddenly appeared – and disappeared – in a flash.

“During one of these times we were just lucky and a supernova happened to explode while we were staring at that point in the sky, and we were able to get this really amazing piece of data,” Mr Armstrong said. 

NASA's planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler on its K2 mission.
NASA’s planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler was also used to find objects such as supernovae.(Supplied: NASA)

And it is “absolutely stunning” data, says Joss Bland-Hawthorn, an astronomer at the University of Sydney who was not involved in the research.

While other telescopes provide a smattering of data points scattered across the rise and fall of an explosion, the data from this discovery is a solid line that weaves its way from beginning to end.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn says the difference between this discovery and previous data is like seeing an explosion as a real-time movie versus a series of stills with gaps in between.

“What [Kepler] has done is give you 100 times more measurements,”  Professor Bland-Hawthorn said.

“You see it from the beginning, through the explosion and when it cools down after the explosion.”

The secret life of stars

Professor Bland-Hawthorn says the beauty of this detail is that it helps us learn about the evolution of massive stars.

“These stars live fast and die young.

“What we are learning here is the detail behind how these stars end their lives.

“And they are very important because … up to half [the elements in the natural world] came from these sorts of explosions.”

Study co-author Brad Tucker from ANU says the discovery can give astronomers a better picture of how different types of stars collapse.

The star that created this supernova was likely to be a yellow super giant 100 times the size and about 17 times the mass of our Sun.

“What we are trying to do is to connect what this star looks like during its life and how it ends,” Dr Tucker said.

“It’s ultimately that complete picture that will tell us when they explode, what energies they produce and what [elements] they produce.”

Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planet Found Hidden in Early NASA Kepler Data

Editor’s note: This release has been updated to reflect the correct information on planet orbits and to include language about how this discovery relates to the field of astrobiology.

A team of transatlantic scientists, using reanalyzed data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, has discovered an Earth-size exoplanet orbiting in its star’s habitable zone, the area around a star where a rocky planet could support liquid water.

Scientists discovered this planet, called Kepler-1649c, when looking through old observations from Kepler, which the agency retired in 2018. While previous searches with a computer algorithm misidentified it, researchers reviewing Kepler data took a second look at the signature and recognized it as a planet. Out of all the exoplanets found by Kepler, this distant world – located 300 light-years from Earth – is most similar to Earth in size and estimated temperature.

This newly revealed world is only 1.06 times larger than our own planet. Also, the amount of starlight it receives from its host star is 75% of the amount of light Earth receives from our Sun – meaning the exoplanet’s temperature may be similar to our planet’s as well. But unlike Earth, it orbits a red dwarf. Though none have been observed in this system, this type of star is known for stellar flare-ups that may make a planet’s environment challenging for any potential life.

“This intriguing, distant world gives us even greater hope that a second Earth lies among the stars, waiting to be found,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The data gathered by missions like Kepler and our Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite [TESS] will continue to yield amazing discoveries as the science community refines its abilities to look for promising planets year after year.”

There is still much that is unknown about Kepler-1649c, including its atmosphere, which could affect the planet’s temperature. Current calculations of the planet’s size have significant margins of error, as do all values in astronomy when studying objects so far away. But based on what is known, Kepler-1649c is especially intriguing for scientists looking for worlds with potentially habitable conditions.

There are other exoplanets estimated to be closer to Earth in size, such as TRAPPIST-1f and, by some calculations, Teegarden c. Others may be closer to Earth in temperature, such as TRAPPIST-1d and TOI 700d. But there is no other exoplanet that is considered to be closer to Earth in both of these values that also lies in the habitable zone of its system.

“Out of all the mislabeled planets we’ve recovered, this one’s particularly exciting – not just because it’s in the habitable zone and Earth-size, but because of how it might interact with this neighboring planet,” said Andrew Vanderburg, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and first author on the paper released today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “If we hadn’t looked over the algorithm’s work by hand, we would have missed it.”

Kepler-1649c orbits its small red dwarf star so closely that a year on Kepler-1649c is equivalent to only 19.5 Earth days. The system has another rocky planet of about the same size, but it orbits the star at about half the distance of Kepler-1649c, similar to how Venus orbits our Sun at about half the distance that Earth does. Red dwarf stars are among the most common in the galaxy, meaning planets like this one could be more common than we previously thought.

Looking for False Positives

Previously, scientists on the Kepler mission developed an algorithm called Robovetter to help sort through the massive amounts of data produced by the Kepler spacecraft, managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Kepler searched for planets using the transit method, staring at stars, looking for dips in brightness as planets passed in front of their host stars.

Most of the time, those dips come from phenomena other than planets – ranging from natural changes in a star’s brightness to other cosmic objects passing by – making it look like a planet is there when it’s not. Robovetter’s job was to distinguish the 12% of dips that were real planets from the rest. Those signatures Robovetter determined to be from other sources were labeled “false positives,” the term for a test result mistakenly classified as positive.

With an enormous number of tricky signals, astronomers knew the algorithm would make mistakes and would need to be double-checked – a perfect job for the Kepler False Positive Working Group. That team reviews Robovetter’s work, going through each false positive to ensure they are truly errors and not exoplanets, ensuring fewer potential discoveries are overlooked. As it turns out, Robovetter had mislabeled Kepler-1649c.

Even as scientists work to further automate analysis processes to get the most science as possible out of any given dataset, this discovery shows the value of double-checking automated work. Even six years after Kepler stopped collecting data from the original Kepler field – a patch of sky it stared at from 2009 to 2013, before going on to study many more regions – this rigorous analysis uncovered one of the most unique Earth analogs discovered yet.

A Possible Third Planet

Kepler-1649c not only is one of the best matches to Earth in terms of size and energy received from its star, but it provides an entirely new look at its home system. For every four times the outer planet in the system orbits the host star, the inner planet orbits almost exactly nine times. The fact that their orbits match up in such a stable ratio indicates the system itself is extremely stable and likely to survive for a long time.

Nearly perfect period ratios are often caused by a phenomenon called orbital resonance, but a nine-to-four ratio is relatively unique among planetary systems. Usually resonances take the form of ratios such as two-to-one or three-to-two. Though unconfirmed, the rarity of this ratio could hint to the presence of a middle planet with which both the inner and outer planets revolve in synchronicity, creating a pair of three-to-two resonances.

The team looked for evidence of such a mystery third planet, with no results. However, that could be because the planet is too small to see or at an orbital tilt that makes it impossible to find using Kepler’s transit method.

Either way, this system provides yet another example of an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. These small and dim stars require planets to orbit extremely close to be within that zone – not too warm and not too cold – for life as we know it to potentially exist. Though this single example is only one among many, there is increasing evidencethat such planets are common around red dwarfs.

“The more data we get, the more signs we see pointing to the notion that potentially habitable and Earth-size exoplanets are common around these kinds of stars,” said Vanderburg. “With red dwarfs almost everywhere around our galaxy, and these small, potentially habitable and rocky planets around them, the chance one of them isn’t too different than our Earth looks a bit brighter.”

Missions such as Kepler and TESS help contribute to the field of astrobiology, the interdisciplinary research into understanding how the variables and environmental conditions of distant worlds could harbor life as we know it, or whatever other form that life could take.

For more information about Kepler and its discoveries, go to:

#AceNewsDesk report …….Published: Aug.10: 2021:

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