The NASA Kepler spacecraft has apparently found an ‘invisible’ world after detecting a planet which revolves around its orbit at irregular intervals.
Sarah Ballard of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is the lead author on the study and she said “This invisible planet makes itself known by its influence on the planet we can see, It’s like having someone play a prank on you by ringing your doorbell and running away. You know someone was there, even if you don’t see anyone when you get outside.”
The seen and unseen worlds orbit the Kepler 19 star which is to be found 650 million light years from Earth, in the constellation Lyra. Astronomers have no details about the invisible world Kepler -19c.
Scientists found both Kepler 19b and Kepler 19c after 19b passed in front of its host star. The gravity of 19c pulls on 19b, changing the orbit. The discovery of Kepler 19c is the first time the ‘transit timing variation’ (TTV) has been used to find an exoplanet according to researchers.
Sarah Ballard added “My expectation is that this method will be applied dozens of times, if not more, for other candidates in the Kepler mission.”
The Kepler spacecraft has been a success so far – it was launched in 2009 and has found 1,235 candidate alien planets in the first four months of operation. More information can be found here.
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