Wednesday, February 14, 2018

NASA JPL Artist Richard Barkus Designs Five Downloadable Planetary Valentines


Summary: For Valentine’s Day 2018, NASA JPL artist Richard Barkus designs five downloadable valentines that celebrate Earth and four other planetary types.


Earth valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration

For Valentine’s Day 2018, NASA JPL artist Richard Barkus designs five downloadable planetary valentines that celebrate Earth, hot Jupiter planets, the Kepler-11 exoplanet system, rogue planets and tidally-locked planets.
Artist Richard Barkus of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Solar System and Technology Public Engagement Office makes his five Valentine’s Day 2018 valentines available as image, print or screen downloads via NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration website (https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/).
First in NASA's quintet is an Earth valentine. The valentine’s explanatory note praises Earthlings’ planetary home.
“Earth is unique in the universe because it is our home. Though we’ve found thousands of planets spinning the galaxy, we haven’t yet found any to match the beauty of the vibrant life on our home planet.”
Earth as a unique abode for an unimaginable diversity of lifeforms is a welcome image that also conveys the fragility of existence, not just for the multiplicity of species living on Earth but also for the planet itself. With the global rise in interest in identifying other Earth-like worlds and in developing interplanetary travel, future humans may consider other planets as their homes. Yet, despite the excitement of journeys to the moon and aboard the International Space Station, astronauts always praise Earth’s unique allure.

tidally-locked valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration

NASA’s second valentine celebrates tidally-locked planets. An explanatory note highlights the characteristics of this type of planet.
“Tidally-locked planets are so close to their star, their star’s gravity holds them in place like Earth holds the moon. One side of a tidally-locked planet always faces its star, and one side always faces away. That gives one-half of the planet a sunny day side, and the other a lasting starry night.”
Gliese 436 b is a possible example of a tidally-locked exoplanet. Gliese 436 b is thought to be tidally locked to its star, Gliese 436. A red dwarf, Gliese 436 is approximately 31.8 light-years from Earth and lies within the zodiac constellation of Leo the Lion. Gliese 436 b’s close orbit and mass qualify it as a hot Neptune.

rogue planet valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration

NASA’s third planet-themed valentine spotlights rogue planets. The explanatory note literally and poetically defines a rogue planet.
“Rogue planets float freely through the universe, without the gravity of a star or planetary system to hold them in one place. You could say they’re dancing among the stars.”
Other common names for rogue planets include free-floating planet, interstellar planet, orphan planet, starless planet, sunless planet and wandering planet.
A possible example of a rogue planet is PSO J318.5-22. The free-floating exoplanet, located 80 light-years from Earth, has a mass six times that of solar system gas giant Jupiter. The Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui, identified the lonely exoplanet by its faint, unique heat signature.
“We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that looks like this. It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone,” team leader Dr. Michael Liu of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy describes the discovery. “I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do.”

planetary system valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration

NASA’s fourth valentine acknowledges planetary systems, in particular the Kepler-11 system. The explanatory note describes the Kepler-11 system's closeness.
“The Kepler-11 system is made up of six planets tightly-packed together. If these exoplanets from light-years away were dropped into our solar system, all six would fit between Venus and the sun. Talk about a close family.”
NASA Ames's Kepler mission pages note that Kepler-11 is so tightly-placed that “At times, two or more planets pass in front of the star at once . . .” On Aug. 26, 2010, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft observed a simultaneous transit of three of the system’s six planets.

artist's conception of three-planet transit of sun-like Kepler-11 star, observed Aug. 26, 2010, by NASA's Kepler spacecraft: NASA-JPL/Tim Pyle via NASA Ames Kepler mission

NASA’s fifth planetary valentine enthuses over hot Jupiter. The explanatory note characterizes hot Jupiter exoplanets.
“A hot Jupiter is a kind of exoplanet that tightly hugs its star. Its orbit is a few days or weeks, equal to one year on Earth. These big gas giants are similar to our solar system’s Jupiter, except in temperature. Hot Jupiters are steaming hot because they stick so close to their stars.”
Discovered in 1995, 51 Pegasi b is one of the best-known of the hot Jupiter exoplanets. Its discovery also marked the first instance of an exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star. Main-sequence star 51 Pegasi is its home star. 51 Pegasi is in the constellation of Perseus, at a distance of approximately 50 light-years from Earth. In addition to being the prototype of hot Jupiters, 51 Pegasi b also qualifies as a tidally-locked planet.
The takeaway for NASA JPL artist Richard Barkus’s five downloadable planetary valentines is that valentines offer the versatility of expressing appreciation on ever large scales, to the point that love is everywhere in the air, in space.

Hot Jupiter valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
Earth valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration @ https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/resources/2158/
tidally-locked valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration @ https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/resources/2157/
rogue planet valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration @ https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/resources/2156/
planetary system valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration @ https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/resources/2155/
Kepler-11 system's three planet transit, Aug. 26, 2010: NASA-JPL/Tim Pyle via NASA Ames Kepler mission @ https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/images/Kepler11_intro.html
hot Jupiter valentine: NASA-JPL/Richard Barkus via NASA Exoplanet Exploration @ https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/resources/2154/

For further information:
Good, Louise. “A Strange Lonely Planet Found Without a Star.” Institute for Astronomy University of Hawaii > Press Releases. Oct. 9, 2013.
Available @ http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/press-releases/LonelyPlanet/
Marriner, Derdriu. "HD 40307 g: One of Three Habitable Planet Image Releases by NASA in 2014." Earth and Space News. Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2015/02/hd-40307-g-one-of-three-habitable.html
Marriner, Derdriu. "Kepler-16b: One of Three Habitable Planet Images Released by NASA in 2014." Earth and Space News. Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2015/02/kepler-16b-one-of-three-habitable.html
Marriner, Derdriu. "Kepler-186f: NASA Poster Images of Planets Outside the Solar System in 2014." Earth and Space News. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2015/02/kepler-186f-nasa-poster-images-of.html
Marriner, Derdriu. "NASA Space Tourism Posters Tout Earth and Other Exotic Cosmic Locales." Earth and Space News. Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.
Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2016/02/nasa-space-tourism-posters-tout-earth.html

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