Friday, July 8, 2011

Hubble Strikes at One-Million; In Discoveries, that is

Exoplanet HAT-P-7b (or Kepler-2b) lies 1,044 light-years away in Cygnus discovered in 2008. Why the fuss over just an exoplanet? Only July 4, it's become Hubble's one-millionth discovery.

After 21 years of discovery, Hubble has finally passed the one-millionth zone. Charles Bolden, pilot of the shuttle that brought Hubble into orbit, comments: "The fact that Hubble met this milestone while studying a faraway planet is a remarkable reminder of its strength and legacy." This discovery will definitely go down into history, but for what reason? Let's stop the praise and reason why. What was the discovery?

The millionth discovery was spectroscopic measurement, where light is divided into its component colors. "These color patterns can reveal the chemical composition of cosmic sources," tells us. Kepler-2b (as you know, also called HAT-P-7b by is classified as a gaseous Jupiter orbiting around a star hotter than our own. Hubble now is being used to analyze the chemical composition of this planet's atmosphere, which is helping in exoplanetary research.

"We are looking for the spectral signature of water vapor. This is an extremely precise observation and it will take months of analysis before we have an answer," said Drake Deming of the University of Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Hubble demonstrated it is ideally suited for characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets, and we are excited to see what this latest targeted world will reveal."
Artist's conception. Caption by This is an artist's concept of the extrasolar planet HAT-P-7b. It is a "hot Jupiter" class planet orbiting a star that is much hotter than our Sun.

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