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Los exoplanetas no pueden ocultar sus secretos del nuevo instrumento innovador

Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA/Artwork by Joy Pollard

Artist’s conception of the Kepler-13AB binary star system as revealed by observations including the new Gemini Observatory data. The two stars (A and B) are large, massive bluish stars (center) with the transiting “hot Jupiter” (Kepler-13b) in the foreground (left corner). Star B and its low mass red dwarf companion star are seen in the background to the right.

In an unprecedented feat, an American research team discovered hidden secrets of an elusive exoplanet using a powerful new instrument at the 8-meter Gemini North telescope on Maunakea in Hawai‘i. The findings not only classify a Jupiter-sized exoplanet in a close binary star system, but also conclusively demonstrate, for the first time, which star the planet orbits.

The breakthrough occurred when Steve B. Howell of the NASA Ames Research Center and his team used a high-resolution imaging instrument of their design — named ‘Alopeke (a contemporary Hawaiian word for Fox). The team observed exoplanet Kepler-13b as it passed in front of (transited) one of the stars in the Kepler-13AB binary star system some 2,000 light years distant. Prior to this attempt, the true nature of the exoplanet was a mystery.

“There was confusion over Kepler-13b: was it a low-mass star or a hot Jupiter-like world? So we devised an experiment using the sly instrument ‘Alopeke,” Howell said. The research was recently published in the Astronomical Journal. “We monitored both stars, Kepler A and Kepler B, simultaneously while looking for any changes in brightness during the planet’s transit,” Howell explained. “To our pleasure, we not only solved the mystery, but also opened a window into a new era of exoplanet research.”

Read the full story on the Gemini Observatory website.

Más información

El Laboratorio Nacional de Investigación en Astronomía Óptica e Infrarroja de la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias de Estados Unidos, el centro estadounidense de astronomía infrarroja óptica terrestre, opera el Observatorio Gemini (una instalación de NSF, CONICYT–Chile, MCTI–Brazil, MCTIP–Argentina y KASI–República de Corea), el Observatorio Nacional Kitt Peak (KPNO), el Observatorio Cerro Tololo (CTIO), el Centro de Datos para la Comunidad Científica (CSDC) y el Observatorio Vera Rubin. Está administrado por la Asociación de Universidades para la Investigación en Astronomía (AURA), en virtud de un acuerdo de cooperación con la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias de Estados Unidos ( NSF) y tiene su sede en Tucson, Arizona. La comunidad astronómica tiene el honor de tener la oportunidad de realizar investigaciones astronómicas en Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak), en Arizona, en Maunakea, Hawai’i, y en Cerro Tololo y Cerro Pachón en Chile. Reconocemos y apreciamos el importante rol cultural y la veneración que representan estos lugares para la nación Tohono O’odham, para la comunidad nativa de Hawai’i y para las comunidades locales en Chile, respectivamente.

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