Ever said there’s not enough time in a year? What if you could nearly double the amount of time in a year. All you have to do is live on Kepler-421b. Yeah, NASA isn’t known for splashy marketing on naming alien worlds.
Clocking in at 704 days to complete its orbit, it is the longest time period found so far on a transiting world. It isn’t the longest orbit we have found in our universe. That belongs to gas giant GU Piscium b, which takes 160,000 years to complete a lap around its host star. Waiting to ring in the new year would involve some serious life spans.
The find of Kepler 421-b has been chalked up to luck. A statement from David Kipping of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics talked about the find. “Finding Kepler-421b was a stroke of luck. The farther a planet is from its star, the less likely it is to transit the star from Earth’s point of view. It has to line up just right.”
The Kepler has so far found 1,000 alien worlds, and another possible 3,000 scientists have labeled as candidates. Follow up observations are slated for the candidate worlds, and experts expect that 90 percent of those will eventually be classified as planets.
With the discovery of Kepler 421-b, the planet was found to be beyond it’s solar system’s snow line. That’s the boundary between rocky and gaseous planets. The star that the planet orbits is dimmer and cooler than the Earth’s sun. The Kepler planet orbits at an average distance of 100 million miles according to researchers.
The slow movement of Kepler 421-b is what makes the discovery interesting. Kipping commented on the first of its kind discovery. “This is the first example of a potentially nonmigrating gas giant in a transiting system that we’ve found.”
The research on Kepler 421-b can be found in the latest issue of The Astrophysical Journal.