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Amateur astronomers discover: A planet as big as Jupiter

The massive planet, called TOI-2180 b, is 379 light-years away, has a temperature of about 76 degrees Celsius, and takes 261 days to orbit its star. That’s much longer than many other gas giants outside of our Solar System. While the planet is warmer than Earth, it is abnormally cold for similar exoplanets.

TOI-2180 b is thought to be denser than Jupiter and its mass 105 times that of Earth. This indicates that it is not composed of elements such as hydrogen and helium.

It may also have rings and orbiting moons, but this has yet to be definitively detected outside of our Solar System.

Using data from NASA’s telescopes to discover other planets, citizens collaborated with professional astronomers in a “unifying effort around the world.” Professional astronomers used algorithms to scan data, while citizen scientists looked at them with their eyes using a program called LcTools.

This resulted in former US naval officer Tom Jacobs noticing a string of data showing that starlight from the star TOI-2180 dimmed by less than 0.5 percent over a 24-hour period. While it may not sound like a big deal, data suggests that an orbiting planet may be responsible for the blackout.

By measuring the amount of light that dims as the planet passes, scientists can estimate the planet’s size and density, along with other measurements. But such a transit can only be seen if the star and planet are aligned with the telescope observing them.

Diana Dragomir, assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, said:

“With this new discovery… TESS [NASA’nın Geçiş Halindeki Ötegezegen Araştırma Uydusu] “We’re pushing the boundaries of the types of planets we can learn from their observations.”

TESS wasn’t specifically designed to find such long-orbiting exoplanets, but with the help of citizen scientists, our team is still extracting these rare gems.

The manual effort of citizen scientists is in some cases superior to the work of algorithms in detecting new planets.

Paul Dalba of the University of California Riverside said:

“It’s really hard to write code that can go through a million light curves and reliably identify individual transition events.”

A single transit event occurs when, from our perspective, the planet passes in front of the star, while computer algorithms detect multiple transit events from a single star and look for planets.

This is an area where people still beat code.

An article based on the research was published last Thursday in the scientific journal Astronomical Journal.

Source: The Independent

Source: Cumhuriyet

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