We searched for circumbinary planets orbiting NY Vir in historical eclipse times including our long-term CCD data. Sixty-eight times of minimum light with accuracies better than 10 s were used for the ephemeris computations. The best fit to those timings indicated that the orbital period of NY Vir has varied due to a combination of two sinusoids with periods of P3=8.2 yr and P4=27.0 yr and semi-amplitudes of K3=6.9 s and K4=27.3 s, respectively. The periodic variations most likely arise from a pair of light-time effects due to the presence of third and fourth bodies that are gravitationally bound to the eclipsing pair. We have derived the orbital parameters and the minimum masses, M3sini3 = 2.8 MJup and M4sini4 = 4.5 MJup, of both objects. A dynamical analysis suggests that the outer companion is less likely to orbit the binary on a circular orbit. Instead we show that future timing data might push its eccentricity to moderate values for which the system exhibits long-term stability. The results demonstrate that NY Vir is probably a star-planet system, which consists of a very close binary star and two giant planets. The period ratio P3/P4 suggests that a long-term gravitational interaction between them would result in capture into a nearly 3:10 mean motion resonance. When the presence of the circumbinary planets is verified and understood more comprehensively, the formation and evolution of this planetary system should be advanced greatly.
Authors: Jae Woo Lee, Tobias Cornelius Hinse, Jae-Hyuck Youn, Wonyong Han
We review the relatively new, internet-enabled, and rapidly-evolving field of citizen science, focusing on research projects in stellar, extragalactic and solar system astronomy that have benefited from the participation of members of the public, often in large numbers. We find these volunteers making contributions to astronomy in a variety of ways: making and analyzing new observations, visually classifying features in images and light curves, exploring models constrained by astronomical datasets, and initiating new scientific enquiries. The most productive citizen astronomy projects involve close collaboration between the professionals and amateurs involved, and occupy scientific niches not easily filled by great observatories or machine learning methods: citizen astronomers are most strongly motivated by being of service to science. In the coming years we expect participation and productivity in citizen astronomy to increase, as survey datasets get larger and citizen science platforms become more efficient. Opportunities include engaging the public in ever more advanced analyses, and facilitating citizen-led enquiry by designing professional user interfaces and analysis tools with citizens in mind.
Authors: Philip J. Marshall, Chris J. Lintott, Leigh N. Fletcher
NASA’s Night Sky Network is conducting a new survey to better understand the landscape of educational outreach performed by astronomy clubs. It will then use this data to assess the needs of the amateur astronomy community for the next five years.
NASA’s Night Sky Network is a community of more than 400 astronomy clubs across the U.S. that share their time and telescopes with the public. They have held nearly 30,000 events and have inspired over 3 million members.
The survey, which will run until the end of September, is fairly straightforward. It asks questions about your local astronomy club, any astronomy activities you participate in, and any challenges you face in outreach.
Discovered in the early 1960s, quasars are highly luminous objects shining over vast intergalactic distances. Until the early 1980s, the nature of quasars was controversial, but now most astronomers agree a quasar is a supermassive black hole in the center of a distant massive galaxy. The black hole rapidly accretes (accumulates) matter toward its center to create a quasar’s powerful luminosity. Still, mysteries about quasars have remained, and now two scientists say they’ve solved a quasar mystery that astronomers have been puzzling over for 20 years. These scientists say that most observed quasar phenomena can be unified with two simple quantities: how efficiently the central black hole is being fed and the viewing orientation of the astronomer. The journal Nature published this work on September 11, 2014.