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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


(Part 1/2 is here)
(The Podcast)

in Eng?ish

"There's a storm, in a bottle of light. The light shouts something that nobody can hear, and cries, for a reason nobody can understand. And its cry becomes a wind, of sparkles. That nobody can feel. The sparkles devour their gods, and build up a fight, made of shivers, and of a river of foam. Then comes the waterfall's laugh, that cracks the bottle. And the storm breathes [by @p300p1]" and the alien-'he/she/it' whose name is Santa Bernard snorts wondering why a recipe for the space-eggnog had to be so damn cryptic before realizing that
happy new year_by sciencemug
Santa Bernard vs the eggnog (by sciencemug)

that was not a recipe for the space-eggnog [indeed it was the one for Gramash, a sort of... Oh forget it, it's too odd&alien to even try to render it into human terms. But it's tasty!] and that he/she/it needed to buy a new pair of lenses and/or to drastically reduce the amount of space-eggnog knocked back per time unit. And while Santa B ponders about all these things, here it comes the first kinda chirp [kinda] from the dozen little creatures, the 'jellies', which are waking up from their little starry nap.
Santa Bernard- Well, well, well, look who's back...
The jellies kinda yawn and stretch [kinda]
SB- So, my chubby little pumpkins of cosmology, are you ready to hear the rest of the story?
js- Uh uh.
SB- Good. Where were
we at? Ah yes, yes! Spacecraft-Kepler was checking 100,000 stars to find the perfect Xmas planet ball to put on the Cosmic Xmas Tree as its ultimate and most precious decoration. Right?
Jellies now are almost completely awake and one of them, Penelope, says- Yes Santa Bernard, and Kepler was using the winking/“transit method” to find the planets and it was living around its grandpa-Mr. Sol-The Sun, and away form its grandma-Earth and its mama-NASA and it had plenty of siblings and cousins that had already put a looot of Xmas planet balls and galactic lights and stuff on the Xmas Tree of the universe...
SB- Exactly right Penelope, very well!

-Thank you- kinda giggled Penelope [kinda]
SB- So Kepler grew older checking the sky, and it worked very hard on its quest. During the first five years of its life Kepler found hundreds of extra-grandpa-Sol planets and spotted thousands of possible ones [974 confirmed exoplanets and 4175 candidates] and it proudly called them the "Kepler Object of Interests (KOIs)". But Kepler felt that none of the KOIs was the one. None of them, in spite of their beauty and uniqueness, was special enough to be the ultimate decoration for the Cosmic Xmas Tree.
js- So what Kepler did, Santa B?
SB- Oh, it simply kept peeping, jellies. It kept peeping with its photometer till one star caught its attention. It was a very old star, about ten billion years [11+/-2] of nuclear reactions
that old star had seen and done. Its name was KOI-183, and it was more or less 2300 light years away from Kepler's grandma-Earth. Kepler liked KOI-183, 'cause it looked alot like grandpa-Sol. KOI-183 was indeed a G4 dwarf with an effective temperature, Te(eff), of about 5300 °C (the Sun's one was of about 5500 °C) and a mass about 0.85 times and a radius about 0.94 times the ones of Mr. grandpa-Sol.
So Kepler kept an eye on KOI-183 constantly, for four long years [13 May 2009 to 11 May 2013]
js- Oooooohhh!
SB- Yes my space-time monkeys, and it saw KOI-183's winking!
js- Yeeeeeahh...

by sciencemug
by sciencemug
[Kepler spacecraft's image is adapted from a Public Domain image by sciencemug (source:] 

SB- And by that winking Kepler learnt that KOI-183 had a candidate planet in orbit around it, the KOI-183b (aka KOI-183.01) wannabe planet.
But Kepler needed to be super sure about this one, because what it got on this candidate planet seemed to be really mesmerizing. So Kepler called for help.
-Who, Santa B, who did Kepler call?- the jellies yell all at once
SB- Well jellies, Kepler asked a favour to the "Nordic Optical
Telescope (NOT) of Roque de los Muchachos Observatory", one of the many eyes human beings had built for the otherwise blind grandmother-Earth.
js- Nor... Nordi...
SB- Let's call it MuchO-eye, ok?
Ooooook!- the jellies say in choir, but Penelope, who's still doubtful, asks- Santa Bernard, what did grandma-Earth's MuchO-eye do for Kepler?
SB- It used one of its parts, the FIbre-fed ´Echelle Spectrograph (FIES) to watch KOI-183.
Pe- Spectralgraph?
SB- Spectrograph, Penelope. It's a tool, a tool which analyzes the light coming from an object by separating it into its component frequencies.
So, thanks to its FIES-spectrograph,
MuchO-eye could study for months [June-September 2013] the winking light coming from KOI-183. And you know what?
js- Whaaaaaat?
SB- MuchO confirmed that KOI-183b was indeed a real planet.
js- Yipppeeeeeeee!
SB- And when Kepler and MuchO-eye put together what they learnt about KOI-183b, well, they confirmed the scope of its marvel. KOI-183b was a coreless planet, like one of the gas giants, Jupiter, existing in grandpa-Mr. Sol's garden, the Solar System. KOI-183b had a mass of about 0.6 times that of Jupiter, a radious slightly bigger (about 1.2 times the one of Jupiter) and its density was about a half of Jupiter's.
But do you want to know what really was the astonishing, breathtaking issue about KOI-183b, the characteristic that made it so so precious to Kepler's eyes and made it the chosen one to be the ultimate Xmas planet ball for the CXT?
js- Yeeeeeeeees!
SB- Well, KOI-183b had an albedo of 0.035 [+/- 0.014] a ridiculously low albedo, an albedo that was one of the lowest ever found for a gas giant!
js- Hurraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! 
SB- And this, my dear fluffy theories of mbranes and strings, it's the story of how spacecraft Kepler found KOI-183b, the 'Ridiculously Low Albedo Ball', the most sacred, precious, the ultimate decoration-planet for our Cosmic Xmas Tree! 

KOI-183b snapshot_by sciencemug
KOI-183b snapshot (by sciencemug)

The jellies start kinda jumping [kinda] around all excited and joyful clapping their kinda hands [kinda], all of them but one, Solomon, who looks terribly sad instead.
SB- What is it Solomon, why are you so upset?
So- Because Kepler is still out there in the space, alone, and now that it has found what it was looking for it will feel purposeless [yep, space alien kids know words, big ones, ones that Earth-bound smartphoned kids can barely google for] and lonely and lost...
SB- Oh no no, Solomon, no. It's true that Kepler faced harsh times after the events I told you*, in fact it broke one of its most important pieces and therefore couldn't stare at its beloved Cygnus-Lyra piece of sky anymore...
-See, I was right, it is in pain!- Solomon stammers with its eye full of tears [yeah, tears are something humans and aliens, and blogs too, have in common. Those and armits (and therefore the need for effective deodorants).]
SB- It has been, yes
Solomon, for a while. But now it's fine, I promise you.
Solomon kinda sniffs [kinda] and stops crying while the other jellies stop jumping and dancing to listen too
SB- Mom-NASA fixed it, and now Kepler is very happy, on its brand new mission, K2, looking for wonders and- Santa Bernard ends in a whisper looking the jellies with their little pretty serene kinda snouts [kinda] attentively pointed toward him/her/it- as mama-NASA diary says- "enabling observations of scientifically important objects across a wide range of galactic latitudes in both the northern and southern skies [of grandma Earth]..."


*"The Ridiculously Low Albedo Ball Cosmic Xmas Tree Story" told by Santa Bernard is inspired by the "KOI-183b: a half-Jupiter mass planet transiting a very old solar-like star" account of adventure written by nineteen human beings (the first of whom was called Davide Gandolfini) in a book of tales of human epic entitled ""
2021 update: wanna see cool exoplantes. Click here?

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