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Captions for "2011 Jan 10: Where Is Kepler-10b?" Video
1.10.11
 
Kepler-10b orbits one of the 150,000 stars that the spacecraft is monitoring between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra. We aim our mosaic of 42 detectors there, under the swan’s wing, just above the plane of the Milky Way galaxy.

The star itself is very similar to our own Sun in temperature, mass and size, but older with an age of over 8 billion years, compared to the 4-and-1/2 billion years of our own Sun. It’s a quiet star, slowly spinning with a weak magnetic field and few of the sun spots that characterize our own sun. The star’s about 560 light years from our solar system. That means that when the light from this star began its journey toward Earth, European navigators were crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in search of new horizons. Today, we’re still exploring and our crow’s nest is a space telescope called Kepler.

The star that planet Kepler 10b is orbiting is one of the brighter stars that Kepler is monitoring. It was also the first we identified as potentially harboring a very small transiting planet. Transits of the planet were first seen in July of 2009.

Continuing the spirit of exploration of early navigators, one day the oceans we cross may be the galaxy itself. But for now, we imagine the worlds we discover by putting all that we’ve learned from our observations and analyses into the fingers of artists.

Animation Credit: Dana Berry / Skyworks Digital, Inc., Kepler Mission, NASA Ames Research Center