OU Astrophysicist Identifies Composition of Earth-Size Planets in TRAPPIST-1 System
For Immediate Release: June 8, 2017
NORMAN – A University of Oklahoma post-doctoral astrophysics researcher, Billy Quarles, has identified the possible compositions of the seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Using thousands of numerical simulations to identify the planets stable for millions of years, Quarles concluded that six of the seven planets are consistent with an Earth-like composition. The exception is TRAPPIST-1f, which has a mass of 25 percent water, suggesting that TRAPPIST-1e may be the best candidate for future habitability studies.
“The goal of exoplanetary astronomy is to find planets that are similar to Earth in composition and potentially habitable,” said Quarles. “For thousands of years, astronomers have sought other worlds capable of sustaining life.”
Quarles, a researcher in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, OU College of Arts and Sciences, collaborated with scientists, E.V. Quintana, E. Lopez, J.E. Schlieder and T. Barclay at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on the project. Numerical simulations for this project were performed using the Pleiades Supercomputer provided by the NASA High-End Computing Program through the Ames Research Center and at the OU Supercomputing Center for Education and Research.
TRAPPIST-1 planets are more tightly spaced than in Kepler systems, which allow for transit timing variations with the photometric observations. These variations tell the researchers about the mass of the planets and the radii are measured through the eclipses. Mass and radius measurements can then infer the density. By comparing the Earth’s density (mostly rock) to the TRAPPIST-1 planets, Quarles can determine what the planets are likely composed of and provide insight into whether they are potentially habitable.
TRAPPIST-1f has the tightest constraints with 25 percent of its mass in water, which is rare given its radius. The concern of this planet is that the mass is 70 percent the mass of the Earth, but it is the same size as the Earth. Because the radius is so large, the pressure turns the water to steam, and it is likely too hot for life as we know it. The search for planets with a composition as close to Earth’s as possible is key for finding places that we could identify as being habitable. Quarles said he is continually learning about the planets and will investigate them further in his studies.
TRAPPIST-1 is a nearby ultra-cool dwarf about 40 light-years away from Earth and host to a remarkable planetary system consisting of seven transiting planets. The seven planets are known as TRAPPIST 1b, c, d, e, f, g and h. For more information about TRAPPIST-1, visit https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/trappist1.
“Plausible Compositions of the Seven TRAPPIST-1 Planets Using Long-term Dynamical Simulations,” was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Funding for this project was provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and University of Oklahoma. For more information, contact Quarles at email@example.com.
OU Student Receives Udall Scholarship
NORMAN - University of Oklahoma honors student Daniel R. Hayden has been named a 2018 Udall Scholar. The Udall Foundation Scholarship recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate a commitment to careers related to the environment or to Native American public policy or health care. Hayden is one of 50 nationwide selected for the honor. Read more
OU Professor to Receive IEEE Satellite Communications Technical Contribution Award
Mohammed Atiquzzaman, is the recipient of the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Satellite Communications Technical Contribution Award for 2018. The annual award is given to an accomplished, senior-level researcher who has achieved outstanding results in satellite communications and recognizes excellent scientific contributions done by academia and industries. Atiquzzaman will receive the award at the IEEE International Conference on Communications in Kansas City, Missouri, May 20-24. Read more
OU Physicist Developing Quantum-Enhanced Sensors for Real-Life Applications
A University of Oklahoma physicist, Alberto M. Marino, is developing quantum-enhanced sensors that could find their way into applications ranging from biomedical to chemical detection. In a new study, Marino’s team, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, demonstrates the ability of quantum states of light to enhance the sensitivities of state-of-the-art plasmonic sensors. The team presents the first implementation of a sensor with sensitivities considered state-of-the-art and shows how quantum-enhanced sensing can find its way into real-life applications. Read more
OU Class of 2018 Gift to Honor Borens
NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma Class of 2018 will celebrate their time at OU through a dedicated green space that will add to OU’s national reputation as one of America’s most beautiful campuses. Located along Lindsey Street in front of the newly completed Residential Colleges, this year’s class gift will fund a picturesque lawn named The Boren Green. Read more
OU Students Receive National Security Education Program Award for International Study
NORMAN – University of Oklahoma senior James Ratcliff and OU junior Libby Trowbridge recently were selected as recipients of the prestigious Boren Award for International Study, sponsored by the National Security Education Program. Thirty-four OU students have received the award since the program began in 1994. Read more
OU-Led Research Team Accelerating Antibiotic Discovery
NORMAN — University of Oklahoma professors, Helen Zgurskaya and Valentin Rybenkov, and team are addressing the challenge and critical need for new antibiotics that can fight infections caused by the multi-drug resistant bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, considered an urgent threat by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The OU team responded to a special request for applications from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, and received a five-year, $5.7 million grant to develop new, more effective approaches against Gram-negative bacteria that are protected by multi-drug efflux pumps and low-permeability membranes. Read more