Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Virtual Telescope - Watching TrES-3's exoplanet

I've just had another Virtual Telescope experience, this one at a more reasonable hour. The Virtual Telescope had a world first, a live webcast of an exoplanet transiting its star. The exoplanet being TrES-3b. (click on any image to embiggen)


Located ( from our point of view anyway) in Hercules (see second image) TrES-3 is a world that is nearly twice the size of Jupiter orbiting its sun in just 31 hours (see first image for a Celestia simulation). It will probably crash into its sun in the "near" future.



The lefthand image shows TrES-3, the parent sun of TrES-3b in the CCD window of the virtual telescope (its the one to the left of the blue bar). The righthand image shows the growing light curve as the transit went on. It was pretty exciting to watch a real-time exoplanet transit, listening to Gianluca Masi's narration.
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The lefthand image is the completed graph of the transit, showing the full dip of the stars light as the exoplanet passed in front of it, and the last image is my participation certificate.

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