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Results from Unistellar citizen astronomers’ observations of exoplanet HD 189733b
On November 6, 2020 Unistellar citizen astronomers observed exoplanet HD 189733b transit across its star!
HD 189733b is a hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanet that orbits its star every 2.2 days. It is 13% more massive than Jupiter and its winds blow 7 times the speed of sound!
Interestingly, it was the first exoplanet to have its color measured! Its blue color doesn’t come from oceans of water on its surface but possibly from a hazy atmosphere with clouds full of tiny glass shards. Read more about these observations of this “true blue planet.”
Scroll down to learn how HD 189733b was chosen as a Unistellar citizen science target and how a global group of teachers and students got involved as well!
“By combining 3 citizen astronomers’ eVscope observations from across Europe, we timed HD 189733b crossing its star to within a couple of minutes, 63 light-years from Earth! We measured the brightness of the planet-hosting star over time (gray circles & blue squares) and compared it to astronomical models (red line), finding that it dimmed by 2.8% (the dip along the plot’s vertical axis) as the planet crossed the star,” said Tom Esposito, lead exoplanet astronomer with the SETI Institute & the Unistellar Exoplanet Team.
The combined observations were taken by Unistellar citizen astronomers Mario Billiani (Austria), Stephan Abel (Germany), and Julien de Lambilly (Switzerland).
Their combined observations were consistent with a previous transit observation in 2006, which is pretty impressive for a 4.5-inch telescope that can take observations right from your backyard!
Esposito added, “Also, combining the measurements led to a more precise measurement of the time than using individual measurements, which shows great promise for future observations with the growing Unistellar Network!”
“It’s like in the old cartoon: with your powers combined… we are Captain Planet!”
How was exoplanet HD 189733b chosen?
HD 189733b was chosen after Unistellar Education Associate, Dan Peluso, had a meeting with teachers and students involved with astronomy education experts, Drs. Carl Pennypacker and Colleen Megowan-Romanowicz’s, Global Hands on Universe (GHOU) “Gee-Whiz Astronomy Modeling” group. The group, consisting of teachers and students interested in being involved in exoplanet research for the classroom, was utilizing the remote access education telescopes Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCO) and shared with Peluso that they were going to try and observe exoplanet HD 189733b in November 2020.
Peluso mentioned he would work with Unistellar’s global network of citizen scientists to observe this exoplanet at the same time to see if the group could learn something from observing the same object with different instruments. Unfortunately, the group ran into some scheduling problems with LCO and were not able to observe the entire transit of HD 189733b. However, the Unistellar Network’s observations of HD 189733b were shared with the GHOU group, who used them to learn and get inspired about exoplanets.
Many of the teachers involved with the GHOU group, inspired by the power and potential of Unistellar eVscopes in education, joined a GoFundMe intended to raise money to place eVscopes into their hands so they can join the Unistellar Network to learn science by doing science. If you can, please donate to their GoFundMe: Powerful Telescopes for Teachers Around the World.
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Many thanks to the SETI Institute & the Unistellar Exoplanet Team: Tom Esposito, Dan Peluso, and Arin Avsar for planning this observation, data reduction, and sharing these great results with us!