Author Topic: NASA's Trappist-1 Announcement - Feb 22, 2017  (Read 27260 times)

Offline Apollo-phill

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NASA's Trappist-1 Announcement - Feb 22, 2017
« on: 02/20/2017 07:43 PM »
One participant is Michael Gillon,astronomer t University of Liege.

This latterinstitution has/said they disdcovered three Earth sized planet round a small star 40 light years away .

Is this the NASA announcemen on 22 Feb 2017 ?

« Last Edit: 03/13/2017 12:31 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Kosmos2001

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Offline Star One

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I provide the link with the official announcement: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-host-news-conference-on-discovery-beyond-our-solar-system

Preview article with no spoilers so to speak.

https://www.cnet.com/news/nasa-space-exoplanet-preview-sara-seager/

Though it does come with an interesting illustration.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2017 08:40 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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Probably something to do with TRAPPIST-1, my guess would be something about atmospheres of the planets. This Spitzer proposal abstract may give a hint (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016sptz.prop13067G):

Quote
The recently detected TRAPPIST-1 planetary system represents a unique opportunity to extend the nascent field of comparative exoplanetology into the realm of temperate terrestrial worlds. It is composed of at least three Earth-sized planets similar in sizes and irradiations to Earth and Venus transiting an ultra-cool dwarf star only 39 light-years away. Thanks to the Jupiter-size and infrared brightness of their host star, the planets are amenable for detailed atmospheric characterization with JWST, including for biosignatures detection. Our Spitzer Exploration Science Program aims to prepare and optimize the detailed study of this fascinating planetary system through the two following complementary sub-programs: (1) a 480 hrs continuous monitoring of the star to explore its full inner system up to its ice line in a search for any other transiting object(s) (planet, moon, Trojan) with a sensitivity high enough to detect any body as small as Ganymede, and (2) the observation of ~130 transits of the planets (520 hrs). This second part has two goals. First, to measure precisely the planets' masses and eccentricities through the Transit Timing Variations method, to constrain strongly their compositions and energy budgets. Secondly, to measure with an extremely high precision the planets' effective radii at 4.5 microns to assess, when combined with future HST/WFC3 observations, the presence of an atmosphere around them. The two complementary parts of this program will make it a long-lasting legacy of Spitzer to the fields of comparative exoplanetology and astrobiology, by providing the necessary measurements on the inner system of TRAPPIST-1 (complete census, masses, eccentricities, first insights on atmospheres) required to initiate and optimize the detailed atmospheric characterization of its different components with JWST and other future facilities.

As always, a press conference and embargo don't necessarily mean anything very major. There seems to be quite a bit of randomness to what gets promoted.

Offline Star One

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Some big hitters for a minor announcement as the article I linked to points out?
« Last Edit: 02/20/2017 08:49 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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Hmm, it's a real press conference with all those people present and not just a telecon, so I agree that it looks to be something at least 'majorish'. It's probably also something the interests general public, because otherwise they wouldn't bother with the AMA. My guess is something nice about TRAPPIST-1 planets' atmospheres, although it's not to me clear how much they could see with warm Spitzer (only NIR photometry and no spectroscopy available). Exoplanets is  not my field, though.

Offline Star One

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Hmm, it's a real press conference with all those people present and not just a telecon, so I agree that it looks to be something at least 'majorish'. It's probably also something the interests general public, because otherwise they wouldn't bother with the AMA. My guess is something nice about TRAPPIST-1 planets' atmospheres, although it's not to me clear how much they could see with warm Spitzer (only NIR photometry and no spectroscopy available). Exoplanets is  not my field, though.

It's certainly already picked up a lot of traction on Twitter for what that's worth.

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Interesting.

This is the recent HST observation request regarding atmosphere observations mentioned in the paper above;

http://www.stsci.edu/hst/phase2-public/14873.pdf
Quote
ABSTRACT
Owing to over 1500 hours of monitoring including a recent 20-d long follow-up with the Spitzer Space Telescope, we have now constrained the architecture of TRAPPIST-1's system up to its ice line. There is no doubt left regarding the system uniqueness for Earth-sized comparative planetology and for the search for extrasolar habitats. The present request for DDT will fulfill the urgent need to inform the community about TRAPPIST-1 planets in order to guide their follow-up, notably in the context of the upcoming JWST Cycle 1 proposal. We request 23 HST/WFC3 orbits to assess the presence of extended atmospheres.

OBSERVING DESCRIPTION
We propose to observe the transits of TRAPPIST-1's planets with WFC3 on Dec.4, Dec. 29, and Jan. 10 to obtain their tansmission spectra and assess the presence of extended atmospheres.

I agree it most likely is regarding detection of atmospheres.

Edit; also http://www.stsci.edu/hst/phase2-public/14900.pdf

Quote

ABSTRACT
We have recently completed reconnaissance studies of the TRAPPIST-1 system with the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes. Owing to a 20-d long follow-up with Spitzer, we have now constrained the system architecture up to the ice line. Thanks to 4 non-consecutive HST/STIS orbits, we have determined the potential for further studies of the system in the UV--notably to search for hydrogen exospheres--and characterized the UV environment of TRAPPIST-1's planets, which is an essential contributing factor to their potential habitability. These reconnaissance studies with the synergetic Great Observatories emphasize the system uniqueness for Earth-sized comparative planetology and for the search for extrasolar habitats.
We request here 5 consecutive HST/STIS orbits to build upon our UV exploratory program and confirm the presence of an extended exosphere exosphere around TRAPPIST-1~c. These observations will inform us on its volatile reservoir while complementing the insights gained with HST/WFC3 (GOs 14500 and 14873). Our request for immediate HST/STIS followup will fulfill the urgent need to inform the community about TRAPPIST-1 planets in order to guide their follow-up, notably in the context of the upcoming JWST Cycle 1 proposal.

OBSERVING DESCRIPTION
We propose to observe the transits of TRAPPIST-1's planets with WFC3 on Dec.4, Dec. 29, and Jan. 10 to obtain their tansmission spectra and assess the presence of extended atmospheres.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2017 08:54 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline CuddlyRocket

I agree it most likely is regarding detection of atmospheres.

Generally, they sell these things to the general public on the possibilities for extra-terrestrial life. So, perhaps they've discovered an exoplanet in the habitable zone with an oxygen-laden atmosphere? Even more interesting if they can rule out any of the non-biological mechanisms for producing an oxygen-laden atmosphere!

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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I doubt it is that big, for a start Hubble likely doesn't have the sensitivity to make an oxygen detection.  This is the last Nasa press release regarding Hubble looking for atmospheres on the Trappist planets;

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-hubble-telescope-makes-first-atmospheric-study-of-earth-sized-exoplanets

Quote
“With more data, we could perhaps detect methane or see water features in the atmospheres, which would give us estimates of the depth of the atmospheres,” said Hannah Wakeford, the paper’s second author, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Observations from future telescopes, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will help determine the full composition of these atmospheres and hunt for potential biosignatures, such as carbon dioxide and ozone, in addition to water vapor and methane. Webb also will analyze a planet’s temperature and surface pressure – key factors in assessing its habitability.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2017 10:10 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline Star One

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Is there still observing time up for grabs on JWST in its initial observing campaigns or has this already been allocated?

Offline Star One

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Offline as58

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Is there still observing time up for grabs on JWST in its initial observing campaigns or has this already been allocated?

Director's Discretionary Early Release Science deadline has not passed yet.

Offline Star One

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Is there still observing time up for grabs on JWST in its initial observing campaigns or has this already been allocated?

Director's Discretionary Early Release Science deadline has not passed yet.

Could this amongst other things be a way of strengthening an application for time on it?

Offline as58

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I doubt it is that big, for a start Hubble likely doesn't have the sensitivity to make that sort of detection.  This is the last Nasa press release regarding Hubble looking for atmospheres on the Trappist planets;

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-s-hubble-telescope-makes-first-atmospheric-study-of-earth-sized-exoplanets

Quote
“With more data, we could perhaps detect methane or see water features in the atmospheres, which would give us estimates of the depth of the atmospheres,” said Hannah Wakeford, the paper’s second author, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Observations from future telescopes, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will help determine the full composition of these atmospheres and hunt for potential biosignatures, such as carbon dioxide and ozone, in addition to water vapor and methane. Webb also will analyze a planet’s temperature and surface pressure – key factors in assessing its habitability.

I'm thinking it's transmission spectrum detection of some constituent of atmosphere of some/one of TRAPPIST-1 planet(s). I don't think that has been done with ~Earth-sized planets before.

Offline as58

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Is there still observing time up for grabs on JWST in its initial observing campaigns or has this already been allocated?

Director's Discretionary Early Release Science deadline has not passed yet.

Could this amongst other things be a way of strengthening an application for time on it?

Certainly, spectroscopic characterisation of exoplanets is one of JWST main science themes. Note though that DDERS is a special call which comes with requirements for speedy release of data and such, so it's not given that everyone wants to apply for it.

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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I'm thinking it's transmission spectrum detection of some constituent of atmosphere of some/one of TRAPPIST-1 planet(s). I don't think that has been done with ~Earth-sized planets before.

Indeed, the identification of any constituent would be a first for an Earth-sized planet. Water vapour might be especially interesting if they could put constraints on a surface source.  I say water vapour as the UV observations requested are particularly useful for water vapour detection.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2017 11:29 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline jebbo

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I'm thinking it's transmission spectrum detection of some constituent of atmosphere of some/one of TRAPPIST-1 planet(s). I don't think that has been done with ~Earth-sized planets before.

TRAPPIST-1 was my bet as well ... transmission spectroscopy would be great (and no, I can't think of any previous Earth/super-Earth results, or even any "warm" rather than "hot" results). So, *really* exciting things would be any of:
- water vapour
- measurement of atmosphere scale height
- of "d" for added excitement (close to HZ and all that).

It feels too dim for reflective spectroscopy and cloud maps, etc.

I also wonder if they have early data from K2 campaign 12 (TRAPPIST-1 is a target, but the campaign doesn't end until 4 March).

Edit: RV data would also be useful - pins down mass & density. But I don't see any representation from suitable instruments.

Edit2: if there is K2 transit photometry, TTVs / TDVs might also pin down mass / density, though I'm not sure we could break the degeneracy.

--- Tony
« Last Edit: 02/21/2017 10:26 AM by jebbo »

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Gillon has been monitoring TRAPPIST-1 with Hawk-I at the VLT, among others.

I assume with the relatively long baseline they have they may be able to get TTVs to derive the masses.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2017 10:28 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Online Ben the Space Brit

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Shooting blindly into the dark, maybe they have some indication of near-me planets in Earth-type orbits around K- or G-class stars in the immediate galactic neighbourhood from the detailed radial velocity measurements that they've been taking recently. I know that Epsilon Erandi is considered a good candidate.
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