Click here for information on closed observing and proposal opportunities for which NExScI has managed the proposal solicitation and selection process.
Click here for information on current and past workshops and conferences which NExScI has organized or help to organize.
NExScI astronomer Dr. David Ciardi has authored a paper that indicates that 70% of planets in Kepler systems are sequentially organized such that the inner planets are smaller than the outer planets, and this is likely a result of evolutionary mechanisms during the formation of the planetary systems.
The latest version of the Exoplanet Archive include plotting in the interactive tables, a viewable transit tool, and a detailed overview page for each Kepler candidate. The Exoplanet Archive is funded by NASA to serve the user community working with exoplanet data. The archive includes exoplanet and stellar host properties and Kepler candidate properties in interactive tables and time series data from space- and ground-based projects. More info: exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu.
Sagan Fellow Rebecca Martin has co-authored a recent paper suggesting that the size and location of an asteroid belt may determine whether complex life will evolve on an Earth-like planet. Click here for the NASA press release.
NExScI scientists Dr. Stephen Kane and Dr. Dawn Gelino have co-authored a paper in the Astrobiology journal revealing that life might actually be able to survive on some of the many exoplanetary oddballs that exist. Click here for the NASA press release.
NExScI is pleased to announce six investigators who will join the LBTI key science team. The LBTI science team is responsible for all aspects leading to the optimum execution of the NASA exo-zodi key science program.
IPAC hosted a pair of meetings Feb. 13-17, 2012. A conference on Science with a Wide-field Infrared Telescope in Space was followed by The 16th International Conference on Gravitational Microlensing. Conference presentations can be found on the meeting website.
NExScI scientist Dr. Stephen Kane was a co-author on a paper (Nature, January 2012) announcing the discovery that the Milky Way galaxy contains at least 100 billion planets from statistical studies of microlensing events. Click here for the NASA press release.
NExScI supported the First Kepler Science Conference which was held at NASA Ames in Mountain View, CA. Click here for more information.
Former Michelson Fellow Remi Soummer leads a team, including Sagan Fellow Laurent Pueyo, that has re-examined Hubble Space Telescope data from 1998 to find visual evidence for two of the four planets orbiting HR8799. Finding visual evidence for two of these planets in the 1998 Hubble data gives astronomers a time machine for comparing much earlier orbital motion data to more recent observations. Click here for the press release.
The 2011 workshop, Exploring Exoplanets with Microlensing, was held July 25-29, 2011 on the Caltech campus. Presentations from the workshop can be viewed here.
The CoRoT project has announced the discovery of 10 new exoplanets. The planets were confirmed and further characterized using NASA time on the Keck telescopes. NASA's portion of time on the Keck telescopes is administered by NExScI. Click here to read the press release.
The symposium explored the synergy between exoplanets and asteroseismology and sought to advance the integral study of planetary systems and their host stars. Click here for the symposium website.
NStED announces that the 1235 Kepler exoplanet candidates have been integrated in the Kepler light curve service. Users can search on the planet candidate properties, the transit candidate properties and the stellar properties and retrieve a list of candidates matching the search criteria and retrieve all the public light curves associated with those candidates. The planet candidate interface is integrated with the NStED periodogram service. The service is available here.
Geoff Marcy's public lecture "Earth-Size Planets and Intelligent Life in the Universe" is now on-line, along with conference presentations, posters and conference pictures. This conference was co-hosted by NExScI and NASA's ExoPlanet Exploration Program and took place in Flagstaff, AZ from May 1-6. Click here for the conference website.
Scientists using NASA's Kepler space telescope have discovered six planets orbiting a single sun-like star, known as Kepler-11, located approximately 2,000 light years from Earth. Kepler-11 has the fullest, most compact planetary system yet discovered beyond our own. The planets were confirmed and characterized further using NASA time on the Keck telescopes. NASA's portion of time on the Keck telescopes is administered by NExScI. Click here for the press release. The Kepler science team has also released a new list of planet candidates bringing the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to 1235. Click here for the press release.
NExScI has released the Simulator for Exoplanet and Exoplanetary System Data (SEED), a web-based tool for modeling known and synthetic exoplanet systems around NStED catalog stars.
NASA's Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system. The discovery is based on more than eight months of data collected by the spacecraft and was confirmed by ground-based observations made with NASA time on the Keck telescopes in Hawaii. NASA Keck time is administered by NExScI. Click here for the press release.
A study of the first Super-Earth to have a known atmosphere was published in the 2 December issue of Nature. The planet, GJ 1214b, is 2.7 times the size of Earth and is the smallest planet discovered to date to have a known atmosphere. Two of the paper's authors, Jacob Bean and Eliza Kempton, are Sagan Exoplanet Postdoctoral Fellows. The Sagan Postdoctoral Program is administered by NExScI. Click here for the press release.
A new census of nearby star systems similar to our sun reveals that small planets are substantially more common than large planets. Andrew Howard (UC Berkeley) is the lead author of the study, which appears in the 29 Oct issue of Science. The study used extensive time on the Keck telescopes as part of a NASA Key Science project. NASA's portion of time on the Keck telescopes is administered by NExScI. Click here for the press release.
NStED has released an online periodogram service. Users can upload time series data, and retrieve a periodocity analysis. The service uses three different algorithms geared towards different science applications. Users can upload their own light curves, Kepler and CoRoT FITS files, and any time-series data set available at NStED. The upload service is an extension of the periodogram tool already integrated with the Kepler Public Data service.
NStED has also released two new transit survey datasets for a total of 7 transit datasets (480,000 light curves) including Kepler and CoRoT. The new datasets include 500 HATNet light curves in the Pleiades bringing the total to more than 6000 HATNet light curves, and the XO Transit Survey, consisting of 2000 light curves spanning 500 days.
In the 1 Oct issue of Science, Matthew Holman et al. report the discovery of a transiting planet whose 38.9 day orbit varies by up to 1 hour due to interaction with other planets in the system. Daniel Fabrycky, the second author, is a 2007 Michelson Postdoctoral Fellow (renamed in 2008 to the Sagan Fellows). NASA time on the Keck telescopes in Hawaii contributed to this discovery. The Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowship program and NASA Keck time are administered by NExScI. Click here to read the paper.
Astronomers Steven Vogt (UC Santa Cruz) and Paul Butler (Carnegie Inst.) have announced the discovery of the first potentially habitable exoplanet, Gliese 581g. The planet is 3x the mass of the Earth and is much closer to it's star than Earth is to the Sun. The discovery is the result of observations made in part with NASA time on the Keck telescopes. NASA Keck time is administered by NExScI. More info...
Workshop presentations from this August 2010 are now online. The workshop was sponsored by NExScI, the Penn State Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, and the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Using a new mode of the Keck Interferometer, astronomers have probed the infall and outflow of material in a proto-planetary disk within 0.1 AU of the central star. Read the press release here.
Sagan Exoplanet Fellow Stefan Kraus (Univ. of Michigan) is the lead author of a Nature article describing the discovery of a massive disk of dust and gas around a giant young star. These disks have been found around much smaller stars and this discovery suggests that much larger stars form in the same way. The star is about 20x the mass of our Sun and the discovery opens up the possibility that planets may form around these more massive stars. Read the press release here.
CoRoT, a space telescope operated by the French space agency CNES, has announced the discovery of six new exoplanets and one brown dwarf. The planets, initially detected using the space telescope, are also studied with ground-based instruments to further characterize the exoplanet properties. For these new discoveries, observations made by Dr. Michael Endl of UT Austin and his team using NASA Keck time, administered by NExScI, contributed to the characterization of four of the new exoplanets. NStED is the US portal for public CoRoT data.
Application deadline extended until July 23, 2010! Under this program graduate students from outside of Caltech work with an IPAC/NExScI scientist for 6-months (starting in Fall 2010). Click here for application instructions and possible research projects.
The SIM Science Studies were aimed at enhancing the science return from SIM Lite by supporting researchers to conduct concept studies, in preparation for observations using SIM Lite. The studies (summarized here) covered a range of topics from planet-detection to black holes and neutron stars.
NStED now includes Spitzer IRS spectra, Keck-HIRES spectra donated from the planet-hunting program M2K, and photometric light curves of known transiting planets donated by amateur astronomers from around the world. NStED also has a new easy-to-use portal to stellar and planetary data of known exoplanet systems including planetary masses, orbits, and transit probabilities and predictions. A new service dedicated to the transit prediction for all known exoplanets is now available. In addition, NStED now provides access to all public Kepler light curve data. The Kepler public data portal allows users to search for Kepler targets based on the stellar (e.g., color, temperature) and light curve (e.g., duration, dispersion) properties. Click here to go to NStED.
Observations with the HIRES instrument at Keck Observatory have detected an extrasolar planet 4 times the mass of Earth around HD 156668. The study was led by Andrew Howard of UC Berkeley and included data taken as part of the NASA Eta Earth Key Project. See the full press release here.
NExScI is pleased to announce an addition to the NASA Star and Exoplanet Database (NStED) to aid in the selection of targets suitable for observing by the Kepler mission through the Kepler Guest Observer Program. The NStED service includes all the stars in the Kepler Input Catalog that fall within the Kepler CCD detector in at least one observing season (4,451,462 stars). Click here to go to NStED.
In a recent Astrophysical Journal publication a team, led by Chris Stark of the Univ. of Maryland, releases new observations made with the Keck Interferometer (KI). These observations, collected in the nulling mode, were combined with visibility and Spitzer IRS data to model the debris disk around 51 Ophiuchus. The best fit model is consistent with an inner "birth" disk of continually colliding parent bodies producing an extended envelope of ejected small grains and is similar to the disk around β Pictoris. These observations were collected using NASA Keck telescope time administered by NExScI, and were funded by a Keck PI Data Award. Read the article here.
NExScI announces the release of ver. 2.0 of the SIM Time and Performance Estimator (TaPE 2.0). TaPE is a web-based tool that allows prospective observers to explore the capabilities of SIM Lite. TaPE 2.0 features:
Supported by the W. M. Keck Observatory Principal Investigator's Fund and NASA's Origins of Solar System program, Prof. William Herbst (Wesleyan University) and his team observed the early formation of an earth-like planet. The discovery, highlighted in the March 13, 2008 issue of Nature, used observations from the Keck telescopes taken over several years. More ...
First results from a new NASA-funded scientific instrument at the W. M. Keck Observatory at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, are helping scientists overturn long-standing assumptions about powerful explosions called novae and have produced specific information about one nearby nova. Click here for the press release.
The 2008-2009 IPAC Newsletter is available with news of NExScI and the wider world of IPAC.
Three teams have been selected to conduct shared risk Key Science projects on exo-zodiacal emission around main sequence stars using the Keck Interferometer. More...
The Keck Interferometer has made the first infrared interferometry observations of an object outside our galaxy. Observations of the Seyfert galaxy NGC 4151 are discussed in a ApJL paper to and find that the majority of the 2 micron emission arises from a region less than 0.1 parsec across.
The first science results from the Keck Interferometer, observations of the young stellar object DG Tau, have been announced. The team of authors, including members of the MSC, found a resolved component with a radius of 0.12 to 0.24 AU, depending on the stellar properties.
Scientists at the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI) at Anderson Mesa (near Flagstaff) Az have recently demonstrated the first six-way optical interferometric beam combination, and used this capability to synthesize an image of the triple stellar system Eta Virginis (HD 107259). Details of and results from this important accomplishment can be found in the Navy's public announcement page. Congratulations to the NPOI team.
On 23 February 2002, a team at the Infrared Optical Telescope Array (IOTA) interferometer at Mt. Hopkins (near Tucson) Az demonstrated three-way beam combination on the variable star Alpha Lyncis (HD 80493). A description of the measurements is available on the IOTA webpage. Congratulations to the IOTA team.
NASA has selected four external teams to collaborate with the Keck Interferometer (KI) Development Team in KI commissioning science: PI's Danchi, Kulkarni, Monnier, Traub lead the external teams collaborating with the KI development team on KI commissioning science. Shared-risk science observation operations commenced in June, and were continued in October and November.
The Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) Development Team obtained first fringes with a pair of small telescopes and the VINCI fiber beam combiner, followed closely by pairwise fringes using all four 8.2-m Unit Telescopes (UTs). More details on initial fringes can be found at the official first-fringe announcement from ESO and first UT-fringe announcement. Proposals for observations with VLTI using the test siderostats were solicited as part of VLT period 71 (covering Apr-Sept 2003).