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Kepler Sees Partial Exoplanetary Eclipse 35

New submitter CelestialScience writes "The heavens have aligned in a way never seen before, with two exoplanets overlapping as they cross their star. Teruyuki Hirano of the University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues used data from the Kepler space telescope to probe KOI-94, a star seemingly orbited by four planets. It seems that one planet candidate, KOI-94.03, passed in front of the star and then the innermost candidate, KOI-94.01, passed between the two. The phenomenon is so new it doesn't yet have a name, though suggestions include 'planet-planet eclipse,' 'double transit,' 'syzygy' and 'exosyzygy.'"
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Kepler Sees Partial Exoplanetary Eclipse

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  • First (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My first post is eclipsing all other attempts at first! Muahahahaaa!

  • Or 'multi-object occultation'?

    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:01PM (#41542873)

      Or 'multi-object occultation'?

      Not really, since the star wasn't blocked from view (well, I'm assuming it wasn't, would need to be a really big planet for that to happen) by either planet, although the inner one may have been blocked by the outer, so it couldn't be an occultation. This would be a transit, since it is an apparently smaller body passing in front of a larger one, although the inner planet may be being occulted by the outer.

      Since it is three bodies, though, we already have a term for this: syzygy. That is exactly what it is. Three celestial bodies in apparent alignment (although all Kepler observations use syzygies, since they rely on the Earth, planet, and star being in alignment).

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )

        Technically the Earth is not one of those objects because Kepler isn't even in orbit around the Earth, but rather in an Earth-Sun Lagrangian orbital position. That would be the trailing point, or L-5. Still, over the distances involved it might as well be the Earth.

  • by mmmmbeer ( 107215 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @04:30PM (#41542471)

    Or perhaps multi-transit, for when more than two transit at the same time.

  • by Anonymous Coward


    I wonder if the planets ate inhabited by exozyzzyvas or exozyzzyzus?


  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @04:35PM (#41542543)

    "The phenomenon is so new it doesn't yet have a name"

    Actually, I think this phenomenon is called "beginner's luck".

  • There's a photo on NASA's site from a probe on the other side of Saturn (and slightly above), with Earth transiting. I'd be surprised if none of the double transits in our own solar system have been photographed by one of our probes.

    • I wasn't aware that Saturn was in a different solar system.
      • by hazah ( 807503 )
        Something is off with your calibaration. "in our own solar system" is right there, in the second sentence.
        • The article says it's new because it's the first time this has happened in another solar system (TFS specifically says exoplanet). Mcgrew states this is not new because it's happened with Saturn. Hence my sarcastic remark.
  • On names (Score:5, Funny)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @04:45PM (#41542651)

    My vote is on "exosyzygy", simply because of how many points that would get you in Scrabble.

    • Alas, there are only 2 Y's in a Scrabble set.

      • by yotto ( 590067 )

        That can be solved (albeit for less points) with a blank.

        A bigger problem is that the word is 9 letters long, so not only do you need all the right tiles, but two of those letters already on the board with the right spacing.

    • by Randym ( 25779 )

      Best. Band. Name. Ever.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In one of Robert Heinlein's classic "juvenile" novels ("Time for the Stars", I think), the ship arrives at a new star system and the astonomer onboard notes that the planets appear to be arranged per Bode's Law [wikipedia.org]. Now that the Kepler telescopeis finding multi-planet systems, I've been wondering whether or not any of them have that (or some similar) series of orbital spacings. I wouldn't expect them all to be like Sol System because different stars have different masses.

    Anyway, I didn't know who to ask. May

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @05:01PM (#41542871)

    First, it's a double transit.

    Second, check out this double transit [nasa.gov] here in our solar system.

    • The double transit was visible only inside a narrow corridor a few hundred meters wide. And it was brief. The space station crosses in the Sun in a split second. Maruska knew when and where to look thanks to the predictions of Thomas Fly, an expert forecaster of ISS transits.

      And that, right there, is why math(s) is cool.

  • No one's made the joke about planets aligning in an xyzzy pattern will instantly teleport us here?

    Feeling old.
  • What does it meeeeeeeean!?
    /Yeah it's an old joke, but someone had to make it.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."