CHESTER, Vt. – Please join SoVerA on Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m., for a hybrid monthly meeting. SoVerA member Claudio Veliz will be presenting “Deciphering Inexplicable Astronomical Data: Interpreting transit phenomena data that persists in eluding researchers’ explanations.”
The in person meeting will be at the Chester, Vt., town hall, and the virtual meeting will be available at www.zoom.us/j/94691230307.
Something is being detected by astronomers which they’re unable to explain. That aspect is nothing new to astronomy, of course. But this is different; it’s getting a bit strange.
Exoplanets were confirmed to exist in the 1990s. These were detected using a number of techniques. Responsible for the majority of exoplanet detections now, though, is what’s known as “the transit system” – simply recording a very slight darkening of a star’s light as one of its planets crosses, or “transits,” between it, and Earth’s observatories.
In 2015, data from the Kepler space telescope regarding one star – in the constellation of Cygnus – was observed as being anomalous. The light patterns were seen to fit no known patterns with which observers were familiar. It was initially dismissed as probably faulty data. But examinations and reviews of the methodology used in conducting the observations confirmed the data was “clean.” Since then, other stars, some with even more peculiar characteristics, have been detected. Astronomers are now becoming a bit concerned as to why this growing number of targets cannot yet be explained by – at least currently known – natural causes.
In this presentation, Veliz will do a quick review of exoplanet detection methodology, and participants will become familiar with the sorts of light curve patterns which are currently understood. Then, the group will review a couple of these very strange case studies which are securing such notorious attention by observers, and a handful of the explanations which have been proposed, including allowances for non-natural ones, which researchers now state they cannot entirely dismiss.
Finally, a short review of why we may soon see even more of these increasingly mysterious patterns.