The first planet spotted by the Kepler space telescope ever falls into its star.
Kepler was launched in 2009 on a mission to find exoplanets by keeping them in front of their stars. The first potential planet spotted by a telescope was initially dismissed as a false alarm, but in 2019 astronomer Ashley Chontos and colleagues proved it to be real (SN: 3/5/19). The planet was officially named by Kepler in 1658b.
Already Chontos and others decided the fate of Kepler in 1658b. “Tragically breathing into his host’s star,” said Chontos, now at Princeton University. The planet has about 2.5 million years left before dying a fiery death. “At last it will be submerged.” Death by star”.
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Jupiter heats at a moderate temperature, and revolves around his star once every three days. In the following observations from 2019 to 2022, the planet waited before the transiting star.
Combined data from Kepler and other telescopes show that the planet is inching closer to the star, Chontos and colleagues said on December 19. Astrophysical Literary Journal.
“You can see the Vissapragada interval between transits, really slowly, but really steadily, to 131 thousandths of a second,” says astrophysicist Shreyas Vissapragada of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
That doesn’t sound like much. But if this trend continues, the planet has only 2 or 3 million years left to live. “For something that was around for 2 to 3” six hundred years, that is quite short,” Vissapragada says. If the human life on the planet was more than 100 years, a little more than a month will be left.
Kepler was studying 1658b to help explain the life cycles of similar planets. “By learning something about the actual physics of how the planets shrink over time, we can better manage the fate of all these planets,” says Vissapragada.
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