Is Planet Z On a Collision Course with Earth?
Saturday, August 5th, 2017 at 9 pm EDT, Mack Maloney, Juan-Juan and Commander Cobra of Mack Maloney’s Military X-Files talk with an array of guests about the mysterious Mars-sized object just discovered on the edge of the Solar System that might be heading for Earth. Is it a monstrous Alien Death Star or a natural object? Either way, would a collision wipe out life on Earth? Guests include Einstein-medium Barbara With & Voice of the Future, Jeff Lawrence. Also, the gang gets their rap names.
This is What We Know About Foreign Planets
An exoplanet (extrasolar planet) is a planet outside the Solar System. More than 2000 such planets have been discovered (3,639 planets in 2,729 planetary systems including 612 multiple planetary systems as of 1 August 2017).
In early 1992, radio astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced the discovery of two planets orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257+12. This discovery was confirmed, and is generally considered to be the first definitive detection of exoplanets. These pulsar planets are believed to have formed from the unusual remnants of the supernova that produced the pulsar, in a second round of planet formation, or else to be the remaining rocky cores of giant planets that survived the supernova and then decayed into their current orbits.
Sizes of Kepler Planet Candidates – based on 2,740 candidates orbiting 2,036 stars as of 4 November 2013 (NASA).
The first confirmed discovery of an extrasolar planet orbiting an ordinary main-sequence star occurred on 6 October 1995, when Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the University of Geneva announced the detection of an exoplanet around 51 Pegasi. From then until the Kepler mission most known extrasolar planets were gas giants comparable in mass to Jupiter or larger as they were more easily detected. The catalog of Kepler candidate planets consists mostly of planets the size of Neptune and smaller, down to smaller than Mercury.
There are types of planets that do not exist in the Solar System: super-Earths and mini-Neptunes, which could be rocky like Earth or a mixture of volatiles and gas like Neptune—a radius of 1.75 times that of Earth is a possible dividing line between the two types of planet. There are hot Jupiters that orbit very close to their star and may evaporate to become chthonian planets, which are the leftover cores. Another possible type of planet is carbon planets, which form in systems with a higher proportion of carbon than in the Solar System.
A 2012 study, analyzing gravitational microlensing data, estimates an average of at least 1.6 bound planets for every star in the Milky Way.
On December 20, 2011, the Kepler Space Telescope team reported the discovery of the first Earth-size exoplanets, Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, orbiting a Sun-like star, Kepler-20.
Around 1 in 5 Sun-like stars have an “Earth-sized” planet in the habitable zone, so the nearest would be expected to be within 12 light-years distance from Earth. The frequency of occurrence of such terrestrial planets is one of the variables in the Drake equation, which estimates the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations that exist in the Milky Way.
There are exoplanets that are much closer to their parent star than any planet in the Solar System is to the Sun, and there are also exoplanets that are much farther from their star. Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun at 0.4 AU, takes 88-days for an orbit, but the shortest known orbits for exoplanets take only a few hours, e.g. Kepler-70b. The Kepler-11 system has five of its planets in shorter orbits than Mercury’s, all of them much more massive than Mercury. Neptune is 30 AU from the Sun and takes 165 years to orbit, but there are exoplanets that are hundreds of AU from their star and take more than a thousand years to orbit, e.g. 1RXS1609 b.
The next few space telescopes to study exoplanets are expected to be Gaia launched in December 2013, CHEOPS in 2017, TESS in 2017, and the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.
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