A Dead Spacecraft Sees Dead Star Warping Light

The now non-operational Kepler space telescope data combined with Cornell-led measurements of stars’ ultraviolet activity have seen the effects of a dead star bending the light of its companion red star.

These are some of the first detections this result predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

The dead star is a white dwarf that is orbiting a small “red dwarf” star.  The white dwarf is smaller than the red dwarf, but has a much greater mass.  So when it passes in front of the red dwarf its gravity causes the light to bend and brighten. However, it is interesting to note that the red dwarf actually orbits the white dwarf.  Also, the white dwarf is quickly eating its companion star.

So, the now dead Kepler spacecraft has collected enough data to make these types of discoveries.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Kepler’s Dead, Long Live Kepler.

The Kepler spacecraft is no longer able to accurately point with enough accuracy to continue its exo-planet hunting mission.

FILE - This artist's rendering provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope. NASA is calling off all attempts to fix the crippled space telescope. But it's not quite ready to call it quits on the robotic planet hunter. Officials said Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 they're looking at what science might be salvaged by using the broken spacecraft as is. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

So last week NASA called off attempts to fix Kepler’s frozen gyroscopes.  So now, officials are looking at what science, if any, can be done by the broken spacecraft.

As I have stated before, this doen’t mean that the mission was a failure.  Kepler has been operating on extended time since it completed its primary mission ended last November.  Kepler has  confirmed 135 exo-planets and has identified more than 3,500 candidate planets.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of more exoplanets are expected from the data collected by Kepler.  It will take at least another three years to analyze the remaining data.

Considering what a small area of space that Kepler was observing, this was a remarkable mission.

“We literally expect … the most exciting discoveries are to come in the next few years as we search through all this data,” he said.

NASA expects to know by year’s end what can be salvaged for Kepler.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman