Exoplanet Current Affairs - 2020

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International Astronomical Union names a star after Indian Woman Scientist

On December 17, 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) named a white yellow star in Sextans Constellation as “Bhibha” and its planet as “Santamasa”


The star has been named Bhibha honoring Indian Woman Scientist Bhibha Choudhury who discovered subatomic particle pi-meson. Bhibha means a bright beam of light in Bengali. The name Santamasa in Sanskrit means clouded. The name is appropriate as the planet’s atmosphere is clouded.

The IAU that celebrated its 100th birth anniversary on July 28, 2019, allowed every country to give a famous name to selected pair of exoplanet and its host star.

Bhibha star

Bhibha is an ageing star that is 6.2 billion years old and Santamsa is its only planet. The mass of the planet is expected to be 1.5 times as that of Jupiter and is very hot. Santamasa completed its revolution around its star in just about 2.1375 days.

Significantly, the 2019 nobel prize in Physics was awarded to the discovery of an exoplanet that is orbiting a star similar to that of the sun.

Pi Meson

In particle physics, pi meson or pion is a subatomic particle. They are unstable and existing with positive, negative and neutral charges. It means that they are present in proton, neutron and electron of an atom.

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2019 Nobel Prize – Physics

The 2019 Nobel prize for Physics was awarded to Swiss Scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz and Canadian – American physicist James Peebles. One half of the prize was won by the American for his contribution towards “Theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology”. The other half was shared between the Swiss scientists for their work on “Discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a star similar to sun”.

The prize consists of 914,000 USD that will be split with one half to the American scientist and the other half to be shared between the Swiss scientists.

Discovery of exoplanet

In 1955, the Swiss astronomers discovered an exoplanet at an observatory in France. It was named orbiting a sun like star called 51 Pegasi b (or 51 Peg b). It orbits very close to the sun. The mass of the exoplanet is half of Jupiter and its temperature are around 1200 degree Celsius.

At the time of its discovery by the astronomers this close distance for a planet to its start was not compatible with the theories of planet formation. Hence it led to discussions of planetary migration.

However, their discovery was proved right and it created revolution in astronomy. Since then 4,000 exoplanets have been found in Milky way.

James Peebles discoveries

The Canadian – American physicist James Peebles had contributed several discoveries in the field of physical cosmology for which he is awarded with the prize. His discoveries are as follows

  • In 1987, Peebles proposed Primordial Isocurvature Baryon Model which explains the development of early Universe
  • He is also known for the Ostriker – Peebles criterion that related to the stability of galactic formation
  • He has made significant contributions towards cosmic microwave background radiation, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, dark energy and dark matter.
  • He was the pioneer in the theory of Cosmic structure formation.

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