Exoplanet or Star?

Image(Credit): Kepler-854b (NASA Exoplanet Exploration).

Phys.org had a good story on the reclassification of objects captured by the NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope once believed to be exoplanets. New evidence indicates three “exoplanets” – Kepler-854b, Kepler-840b, and Kepler-699b – are actually stars (hence, the NASA image above will need to be modified).

The article notes that the three objects are too large to be considered planets, being between two and four times the size of Jupiter. The results were part of a study from the Astronomical Journal. A fourth exoplanet, Kepler-747 b, might also be a star.

After updated information indicated Kepler-854b was about three times the size of Jupiter, one of the study authors said, “There’s no way the universe can make a planet of that size…It just doesn’t exist.”

While the team reviewed about 2,000 Kepler exoplanets to find these four questionable items, it is likely that more will be found in the future among other reported exoplanets. Fortunately, that still leaves us with plenty of real exoplanets to study.