More than half of Kepler’s giant exoplanets are false positives (Synopsis)

"After 20 years of exploring planets as big as Jupiter around other suns, we still have a lot of questions left open. For instance, we don’t understand what is the physical mechanism that forms Jupiter-like planets with orbital periods as little as a few days." -Alexandre Santerne

By surveying an area of the sky containing over 150,000 stars visible to it, the Kepler satellite monitored each one over a multi-year period looking for periodic changes in brightness. Thousands of planetary candidates emerged via the transit method, where periodic dips of 3% or less were noted with regularity.

Image credit: William Borucki, Kepler Mission principal investigator, NASA / 2010. Image credit: William Borucki, Kepler Mission principal investigator, NASA / 2010.

However, a follow-up study has come out on the giant exoplanets, finding that over 50% of them aren’t giant planets after all, but wound up being eclipsing binary stars.

Image credit: Alexandre Santerne et al., 2015. Image credit: Alexandre Santerne et al., 2015.

Go read the whole thing, and think about what it means. Perhaps our lone star Solar System is the oddity, after all.

Tags

More like this

“Pluto was part of their mental landscape, the one they had constructed to organize their thinking about the solar system and their own place within it. Pluto seemed like the edge of existence. Ripping Pluto out of that landscape caused what felt like an inconceivably empty hole.” -Mike Brown We…
"Mars is much closer to the characteristics of Earth. It has a fall, winter, summer and spring. North Pole, South Pole, mountains and lots of ice. No one is going to live on Venus; no one is going to live on Jupiter." -Buzz Aldrin When a planet passes in front of its star from our point of view,…
The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA's Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet -- a planet orbiting two stars -- 200 light-years from Earth. Unlike Star Wars'…
Kepler released most of the first little bit of data today. 306 new candidate exoplanets, with 5 multiple transiting systems - ie stars with more than one planet transiting them. The really interesting systems though are the 400 objects that the Kepler team got permission to withhold, and the data…

Well, everywhere I've ever looked or heard about the formation of stars has ALWAYS said that the normal is multiple star systems, binary and up.

Even for the lay public, that's been the norm. So I don't know how this makes our star less unusual being a singleton when finding out that many "large jupiter" planets are liable to be low mass stars.

Well, the Kepler false positive rate is well established elsewhere. This survey is a lonesome and suffer from obvious selection bias - choosing bright stars and above all large transit depths to accommodate the instrument - so I wouldn't expect it likely to be correct and representative.

By Torbjörn Larsson (not verified) on 12 Dec 2015 #permalink

Hey! Troll-child! Care to stalk me over here!

Here kitty kitty kitty! Here kitty!

The mentally retarded by choice are SO easy to control!