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  1. EPIC 203533312 is a large F-Type main sequence star about 1,440 light-years away in the constellation of Scorpius. Over the summer, I stumbled across its previously discovered candidate planet on Exoplanet Explorers. The results were absolutely horrifying. This freak of nature, nicknamed Kraken, appeared to be a 3.1 Earth radius planet orbiting every 4.2 HOURS. Yes, you read that right. The calculated equilibrium temperature for Kraken is nearly 5,100oK, or around 8,800 degrees Fahrenheit!!! That's as hot a some G-type stars! However, it now seems more likely that Kraken is, in fact, a second star to the system. Believe it or not, that's WORSE than it being the physical embodiment of Hell. Why? To get the signal seen in the K2 data for EPIC 203533312, Kraken would have to be another large star (estimated around 1.5 solar radii) in an 8.4-hour orbit that just grazes the disk of the primary. This is incredibly problematic, as the two stars will likely be close to - if not - touching. A similar system is the binary W Ursae Majoris, which consists of two Sun-like stars that touch and are now shaped like a giant Space Peanut of Death. However, EPIC 203533312 and Kraken are even closer together due to their significantly larger radii. What makes this system even scarier is when you compare it to KIC 9832227. If anybody remembers, this was a pair of G-type stars of 1.58 and 0.83 solar radii in a contact binary system with orbits lasting just 11 hours and will likely merge into a Red Nova in the early 2020's. Both of KIC 9832227's stars are significantly further apart than EPIC 203533312 and Kraken, which makes it quite likely that the latter two can merge within the next few decades - or maybe even within the next few weeks! I honestly don't know. I'm not good when it comes to binary systems, and this system is just so unusual and so dangerous that it's very hard to get a clear picture of its future. Any planets in this system probably only have a handful of years (in cosmic standards) before being incinerated. But how bad can a Red Nova even be? The most famous Red Nova star, V838 Monocerotis, was probably once a large blue star that appears to have merged with another star or a very large planet. It suffered an incredible outburst, quickly increasing to 1,200-1,500 times the size of the Sun with over one million times the luminosity, but with a temperature similar to L-class brown dwarfs. The burst was powerful enough to be seen from Earth, around 20,000 light years away. Any planets in this system were likely destroyed or sterilized by the rapid expansion and sudden, dramatic increase in luminosity. While EPIC 203533312 and Kraken likely won't produce something as powerful, V838 Monocerotis proves how potentially dangerous these two stars are. It's absolutely frightening how a pair of stars is about to be completely destroyed and wipe out any planets in its vicinity within a human timescale. I would rank this, hands-down, as one of the most DANGEROUS systems you could ever visit in the entire Universe.
  2. Over the past few weeks, me and my collaborators over at Exoplanet Explorers (shutcheon, Vidar87, Libmar96, and @Cabbink) have been cranking out candidate planet discoveries like crazy. By now there's probably well over two dozen high sigma candidates - aka worlds that have a high statistical probability of being real. A good portion of these have been multi-planet systems. To date, we've found four 4-planet, two 5-planet, one 3-planet, and at least three 2-planet systems. All of the five-planet systems were found by shutcheon with collaborative efforts by me and other members of the group I mentioned. The trick to finding these multi-planet systems is by analyzing the data of stars with at least one confirmed planet or known candidate. This has worked with one confirmed planet system before - K2-82, where shutcheon found two extra Earth-sized candidates. Now it has worked again with K2-72. Shutcheon managed to find a very likely transit event around epoch 2151 in the light curve of K2-72 (EPIC 206209135) lasting about 3 hours. He was able to find an orbital period of 32.54 days for the planet, putting it within the habitable zone. Once I returned home from school I raced to check the data for the star, and not only did I find shutcheon's K2-72f, but I also found evidence of a K2-72g! This world is the least likely, but appears to have a year of at least 52.989 days. This also puts it in the habitable zone, albeit in the outer edge. I'd say that this find is probably one of the greatest ever done by my group. But wait, things get better! Using stellar size data from Martinez et al., I was able to figure out that planets K2-72c and K2-72e are much more promising than what was listed on ExoFOP. While 72c is in the habitable zone, it looks to more likely be a Venus analogue. This makes planet 72e, along with candidates 72f and 72g, potentially habitable! Now, I will list the parameters of the planets below. Space Engine representations of the planets coming soon! HOST STAR K2-72: 0.359 RSol, 0.361 MSol, 3,370oK, 0.0149 LSol, spectral type M2.7V, habitable zone from 0.1164 to 0.1677 AU. K2-72b: 1.121 RE, year of 5.5774 days, 0.0438 AU, 425oK. Hot desert planet, likely tidally heated and locked. K2-72d: 0.998 RE, year of 7.759 days, 0.0546 AU, 381oK. Hot desert planet, likely tidally heated and locked. K2-72c: 1.278 RE, year of 15.187 days, 0.0855 AU, 302oK. In the optimistic habitable zone, but likely a hellish Venus analogue. K2-72e: 1.469 RE, year of 24.167 days, 0.1163 AU, 261oK. On the inner edge of the habitable zone; potentially habitable Super-Earth! K2-72f: 1.357 RE, year of 32.54 days, 0.14209 AU, 233oK. Smack in the middle of the habitable zone; best potentially habitable candidate of the system! K2-72g: 1.211 RE, year of 52.989 days, 0.19668 AU, 201oK. Rather cool potentially habitable candidate! By the way, if anyone's wondering why I'm posting this on a different thread before the Daily Round-up, it's because this discovery is too big to put on My Exoplanet Discoveries thread. I also really wanted to share this with the KSP forums. EDIT: The discussion thread on Exoplanet Explorers