Surprise discovery announcement at the Exoplanet UpRising workshop!

In a dramatic change in schedule, Fieffe Menteur, a junior researcher at the French Academy for Keplerian Exoplanets broke embargo and revealed the first discovery of a habitable exoplanet!

Dateline 2010-04-01:

The object, tentatively named Matsya seems to be a warm Super-Ganymede, orbiting a Warm Giant Planet, tentatively named Navistan in the habitable zone of a K3VIz star HD234789 – to be announced as CoRoT-26bc, aka KOI-13bc (according to NASA anyway) in a pair of joint papers to appear in a journal of Science today.
Matsya was seen in micromagnitude z’-band photometry of the transits of Navistan during MOST followups of the original discovery and has a radius of 1.101001 Earth radii and is estimated at 7 Mars masses in an orbit of 7.15455296 days around Navistan.

The star is only 3.8 lightyears away, is visible as a vivid blood red star in the deep southern sky, known there as Gangurru.

Preliminary mass estimates, using a combination of transit timing variations and radial velocity measurements from the CYCLOPS Near Infrared Spectrograph at the west Gemini telescope put Navistan at 0.8 jupiter masses in a 91.25 day orbit around Gangurru. With a radius of 1.314 jupiter radii, Navistan most resembles a large ball of carved, painted styrofoam.

Imaging with the Cooled Planet Imager at the Arizona super huge Interferometric Telescope shows a distinct blue tint to Navistan, consistent with a radiatively conservative atmosphere with high methane concentration; time resolved velocity offest spectra shows a weak signal of methane, cyanogen and octane, consistent in phase and offset with Matsya’s orbit.
There are hints of 256Ub* (IV) absorption lines in the spectra, as spotted by a sharp eyed Italian professor at the talk. NASA officials promptly stopped all further discussion, and have sequestered the workshop attendees, pending availability of a C-130J transport to take us to a secure location (sounds nice, semi-tropical we are told), but they forgot about the trick of tethering an iPhone to a laptop, so I’m still blogging it, embargo or not!
(Direct cell phone calls from UCSB are only possible to The Valley currently, since most of the ATT cell phone towers burned down in the Jesusita fire. As ATT officials explain, that is where 99.2% off all outbound calls from UCSB go anyway, so what else do they need?)

Preliminary rapid followup data from the SKA Pathfinder show pulsed coherent radio emission in the K-band coming from Gangurru. Fermi observations have also shown intermittent γ-ray and x-ray flashes from the general vicinity of Gangurru, and there are plans to reactivate the Vela network of high energy space detectors to further monitor and localize these.

In related developments, NASA has put out a new RFP under Exploration Development for Valkyrie Mk III class spacecraft for future lines of exploration, designed to carry the Conquest class surface landers, man-rated.
Development of Pu-238 breeders for deep space flight technology has been accelerated, and negotiations at the State level have begun with Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire to convert the newly operational Le Grand Collisionneur de Hadrons to mass manufacture of anti-deuterium ice to power the Mk III engines.

Image of Matsya with Navistan in the background, from the C-PI at SHIT.

NASA delegation meets with its ESA counterparts to discuss priority in the Matsya discovery announcement.


  1. #1 Alastair McKinstry
    April 1, 2010

    So, does this ocean planet smell fishy ? 🙂

    Seems to be a good day for the French. According to Radio 4 this morning, Shakespeare’s mother was French, so they’re adding him to their cultural pantheon!

    And CERN have announced the new LHC 2 will use London’s Circle line as their underground tunnel, according to the Independent (

  2. #2 Childermass
    April 1, 2010

    I read the original technical papers and it seems that the planet is high in the element of Cameronium.

  3. #3 Dr. Skepto
    April 1, 2010

    The astrological implications of Matsya can hardly be overemphasized.
    As it crosses into Taurus it will have a de-stabilizing effect on all
    earth signs. Nevertheless, 3C 373, favorably located in Virgo, will
    partially counteract the effect of Matsya. However, with Matsya in
    Taurus the materialistic side of Taurans, brought about by Jupiter,
    will be accentuated. Water signs, on the other, hand will benefit from
    the appearance of Aristophanes in Taurus, which will reinforce the
    effects of the gravitationally-lensed quasar Q0957+561 (in Pisces) on
    their finances. Those who were born with Pluto in Leo, should be
    thinking about retiring very soon (certainly before the next type Ia
    SN goes off in Libra).

  4. #4 ryano
    April 1, 2010

    You had me until you said someone broke a Nature embargo.

  5. #5 IBY
    April 1, 2010

    What’s a 256 Ub (IV) absortion line anyways?

  6. #6 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 1, 2010

    well, clearly, as indicated by the symbolic notation,

    256^Ub*(IV) is the absorption line of excited, triple ionized, Unobtainium-256

    As you know, this is a strategically critical and rare resource, in high demand for various classified projects under contract to well connected large vertically integrated industrial combines employing many former Senators as consultants.

  7. #7 brad
    April 1, 2010

    I was hoping for Ub(XV) instead….

  8. #8 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 1, 2010

    Hm, tricky – I think you need to wait for IXO for that.

    However, maybe EXIST could do Ub(XL) – if the abundance is as high as one in ten, as indicated by Ub(3), even easier if you look at Ub(6) statistics.

  9. #9 Matt K
    April 2, 2010

    WOOHOO! I’ll *finally* get a citation for being on the Super Huge Interferometric Telescope project.

  10. #10 Max
    April 3, 2010

    Happy April fools Day! Nice try!

  11. #11 Max
    April 3, 2010

    Also, Alpha Centauri is the closest star and is over 4 light years away. Gangurru can’t be 3.7 light years away unless there was a rift in the space time continuum, or a change in the value of Pi. Btw a planet with potential liquid water has already been found, so the joke is on you.

  12. #12 Anonymous
    April 3, 2010

    maybe he made a mistake about the star distance.

    however about the possibility of this moon be habitable this is ever more interesting that Gliese 581d because First this orbit around a planet that transit the star so they can follow up and study this moon in detail in near term tecnology, second this would be the first moon that the scientist discovery around a extrasolar planet

  13. #13 Anonymous
    April 3, 2010

    after read the text carefully it”s seems too good to be true.

    there is too many liars on this text that doesn’t make sense like: “French Academy for Keplerian Exoplanets”

    “Arizona super huge Interferometric Telescope”

    come on give a break ok

  14. #14 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 3, 2010

    I cannot believe M. Menteur would lie!
    But then I do not believe Gl581d is habitable either.

  15. #15 Max
    April 4, 2010

    Not to humans, but life can still exist there. So it is April 4th. When are you going to pull the punch line?

  16. #16 Anonymous
    April 4, 2010

    then prove! cos there is too many data on this text that doens’t make any sense,like arizona super huge interferometric and french academy for keplerian exoplanet

    by the way not one can say that Gl581d it’s habitable,no body knows coz there is not tecnology to prove that yet,the only thing that we know is that Gl581d it’s on habitable zone of the M star Gl581

    so tell more about this exomoon, which journal of science will pulblish this news science? nature? and when?

  17. #17 Anonymous
    April 4, 2010

    if this is true go to be a great news…

    the star distance is wrong can’t be 3.8 light years

  18. #18 Ikelos
    April 4, 2010

    Lol, April Fools Joke! Half the data can’t be right, there are no stars 3.8 lightyears away, and some of the things that were claimed can’t be proven yet. Not to mention I don’t think an exomoon has ever been discovered or even any bodies below 1.7 earth masses.

  19. #19 Steinn Sigurdsson
    April 4, 2010

    Dear all,
    I cannot quite believe I actually have to type this, but:

    yes, it is an April Fool’s joke!

    None of it is true – as subtly indicated throughout the text.
    No M. Meneut works on the CoRoT team – look up the name.
    There is no F.A.K.E., and the Arizona SHIT is but a proposal for the distant future.
    No bright star is within 4 light years, nor is NASA developing anti-matter powered Valkyrie class space vessels, or Conquest class landers.

    Unobtainium is not real, and while the AT&T cell phone towers did burn down above KITP, NASA is not about to ship off the Exoplanet Rising Workshop attendees to Guantanamo.
    And, no one would dare break Nature or Science embargos.

    If it is any consolation, some postdocs at the workshop told me they fell for the joke, briefly.
    But, joke it is.

    And the NASA negotiating team with ESA does not wear red crosses on their shirts.

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