A new planet named PH2b has been confirmed within the habitable zone (so called Goldilocks Zone) around its star. This new planet was initially discovered by volunteer Planet Hunters (such as myself) who analyze the light curves of thousands of stars for a dip in their light spectra. To see how this works check out this other article. The light dip is detected by the ultra sensitive Kepler Space Telescope, which analyzes light spectra for thousands of stars that are relatively close by within our own Milky Way Galaxy.
New Planet Is a Gas Giant that is a planet made entirely of gas and has no solid components. They are thought to accumulate gas during solar system creation instead of solid mass and this is somewhat dependent on what material is available and present in that area of the solar system.
New Planet PH2 Sunset
The new planet is a gas giant approximately the size of Jupiter in our solar system so it does not appear to be a solid planet. Therefore life is not likely possible on PH2b, however it could potentially contain several rocky moons any of which could contain life. As Jupiter contains numerous moons, many of which are the size of planets, it is quite possible for numerous moons to be present orbiting the planet.
The image shown above is an artist’s conception of what it might be like viewing a sun set from a moon of PH2b. This is similar to the movie Pitch Black, where a Saturn-like gas giant eclipses the last of 3 stars and sends the planet into perpetual darkness. Here’s the eclipse of 3 stars by the gas giant in Pitch Black (below).
The average temperature on the planet is approximately 46 degrees Celsius so this temperature allows the possibility for water to exist, potentially on a moon. This is an extraordinary discovery, as life is possible on one of its moons.
The new planet orbits a yellow star approximately the same size as our own Sun. In contrast, the gas giants of our solar system, Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn are all outside the habitable zones of our Sun. This demonstrates that other solar systems can be quite different than our own.
In addition to this planet, 31 other potential planet candidates have also been detected and 15 of these are also within the habitable zones around their stars. All of these potential planets have been discovered by Planet Hunters indicating that the Planet Hunter project analyzing data from the Kepler Space Telescope is successful at finding new planets outside our solar system.
Detailed Analysis after Planet Hunters discovered the new planet, further analysis was conducted by Ji Wang, associate post-doctoral candidate at Yale University using the Keck Telescope. He used the HIRES spectrograph and NIRC2 adaptive optics system of the Keck telescope in Hawaii to obtain both high resolution spectrum and high spatial-resolution images to verify that PH2b is in fact, a planet orbiting its star within the habitable zone. Ji Wang has presented a scientific paper based on PH2b in Astrophysical Journal. For more information check out the original article here.
It is great to see that our efforts at Planet Hunters are beginning to pay off, and I am certain this is only just the beginning. As a Planet Hunter myself, I have detected numerous transits with good potential of becoming planet candidates.
See what Planet Hunters is all about by joining Zooinverse. Its free to join.
Maddalena Environmental Inc.