Monthly Archive for January, 2011

Kepler discovers the first extrasolar rocky planet!

Artist's impression of Kepler 10-b (Credit: NASA/Kepler Mission/Dana Berry)

Full story at http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/nasakeplernews/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=94
Star and planet stats at: http://kepler.nasa.gov/Mission/discoveries/kepler10b/ (Kepler ID is 11904151)
Discovery paper at: http://kepler.nasa.gov/files/mws/Batalha_N_Kepler-10b.pdf

Big news today – Kepler has discovered its first extrasolar rocky planet, around a sun-like star about 564 lightyears away! Full stats, including the transit lightcurve can be found here. Interestingly the star may be very old – the age estimate is around 11.9 billion years – about as old as stars can get in our galaxy!

Continue reading ‘Kepler discovers the first extrasolar rocky planet!’

Planethunters: How to download Kepler lightcurve data! (for basic users)

As promised, here’s the second part of my tutorial (following on from my previous post), explaining how to download Kepler lightcurve data for the stars on planethunters.org! Note however that this is intended for somewhat more advanced users than the previous one – you’ll need to know your way around Microsoft Excel for this!

Continue reading ‘Planethunters: How to download Kepler lightcurve data! (for basic users)’

Planethunters: How to ID a star on the Kepler Data Search site (updated to Q2)

Kepler Search Page (screencap)


A lot of people have asked how to identify a star that they see on the Planethunters website. Apparently the programming team will be adding something soon that says what the Kepler ID (KID) of the star is, but in the meantime I’ll show you how to track it down yourself!

The good news is that it is possible to go to the Kepler Data Search page at http://archive.stsci.edu/kepler/data_search/search.php (shown in the screencap on the left) and find all the stars listed on the PH site, but it’s not quite as straightforward as typing the ID of the star into the search forms there – the stars on the PH site have their own ID numbers with APH or SPH in front of them, and these are not the same as the official Kepler IDs used in the Kepler catalogues. However, all the information you need to find a star is on the PH site.

If you look at the source page for a star (e.g. http://www.planethunters.org/sources/SPH10052245 ) you’ll see on the right-hand side four “stats” for the star – “Type of star”, “Apparent visual magnitude”, “Teff“, and “Radius”. You don’t need the Type, but you’ll need the other three, so make a note of those numbers (or remember them).

If you look at the Kepler Data Search Page, you’ll see a lot of places where you can enter numbers to search for things! It might seem a little intimidating at first, but don’t panic! Here’s what you need to do:

Continue reading ‘Planethunters: How to ID a star on the Kepler Data Search site (updated to Q2)’

Happy 2011!

Happy new year to everyone visiting this site and reading my science blog (which of late has turned into more of a Planethunters blog)! I really appreciate your visits and your comments – please do spread the word about the site to anyone else who may be interested, and if you’re on other sites or discussion boards then feel free to post links back to any articles of interest here!

I have no intention of slowing down in 2011, so stay tuned for more posts! 🙂