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Beyond Earthly Skies

CoRoT May Have Detected a Binary Planet

4 May 2015, 22:00 UTC
CoRoT May Have Detected a Binary Planet
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CoRoT (French: COnvection ROtation et Transits planétaires; English: COnvection ROtation and planetary Transits) is a space-based observatory built by the French Space Agency (CNES). It detected an unusual transit event identified as SRc01 E2 1066. This single transit event has a depth of 4 percent and a remarkably long duration of 66 hours, more than twice the expected duration of the transit of Jupiter across the Sun. Additionally, the light curve of the transit event also features a “bump” in the middle.From the long transit duration and the “bump” in the transit light curve, Erikson et al. (2012) suggests that the event was either the transit of a gas giant planet in front of a giant star or the transit of a distantly-orbiting gas giant planet in front of a Sun-like star. In both cases, the planet happened to pass in front of a starspot on the surface of its host star. Since the surface of a star at a starspot is cooler and less bright than the rest of the star’s surface, a planet passing in front of a starspot will block a slightly smaller proportion of the total starlight, resulting in a “bump” in the transit light curve.Figure ...

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