Week 3: Exoplanet Archive Analysis

Apr 15, 2023

Hello again! This week was spring break for the University of Mississippi, so I wasn’t able to meet with my on-site advisor. This unfortunately means no WASP-31 b updates just yet. However, I did do some fascinating research on exoplanet archives from both NASA and the European Union exoplanet catalog to see what information is recorded for each transiting exoplanet found. This will guide my own research with WASP-31 b. Here is an example of the table they use:

There are about 70 more columns past this that I working to understand. For this picture, I made a table of what each header means in context:


Acronym  Full Name  More Information
Pl_name  Planet name Usually based on the mission/telescope that detected it. WASP stands for Wide Angle Search for Planets, HAT stands for Hungarian-made Automated Telescope, and KELT stands for Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope. 
# of Reductions  Amount of times the data has been processed/ recorded  Basically refers to how many times scientists have reviewed the information and uploaded research on the planet. For instance, WASP-104 b has 45 reductions because there was an article posted about the planet and more astronomers took an interest. 
Hostname Name of the star the planet orbits Also named after the mission/telescope. 
Sy_syum  Number of stars  Refers to solar systems with multiple stars 
sy_pnum Number of planets  Often astronomers number the stars they discover and letter the planets. For example, the star WASP-47 has the planets WASP-47 b, WASP-47 c, WASP-47 d, and WASP-47 e. 
Discovery  How each planet was discovered All of the planets in this table were discovered using the transit method but other options include the radial velocity method, direct imaging, etc. 
Disc_facility Discovery facility  Which group discovered the planet. SuperWASP is the UK’s branch of the WASP. 
pl_controv_flag Planet controversial flag Occurs when a planet might not actually have enough of the requirements to be a planet. For example, dwarf planets like Pluto have controversial flags. 
Rastr Right ascension (sexagesimal) Right ascension is one of two angles that locates a point on the celestial sphere (the abstract sphere of space that surrounds the Earth) in the equatorial coordinate system.
Decstr Declination (sexagesimal) The other of two angles that locates a point on the celestial sphere 


I also completed NASA’s Universe of Learning video series on how to explore, participate in, and contribute to exoplanet science to better prepare myself for my on-site research. I’ll leave  you with an astrophysics fact of the week: The hottest known planet is KELT-9b, which has a surface temperature of 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit! Thank you for reading my blog this week and come back next week for some WASP-31 b updates!


  • Maren Willard

2 Replies to “Week 3: Exoplanet Archive Analysis”

  1. Katey B. says:

    I love how you utilized your time while they were on a break! Are you going to be finding all this information for your planet as well, or does this data already exist?

    So excited to see more from this!

    1. Maren W. says:

      I will mainly be confirming the different qualities of my planet, since there has already been one study done of it. This initial research will also help me practice the math and data collection skills I will need to conduct research on my own for potentially new planets.

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