Kepler Observes Neptune Dance with Its Moons

12 May 2015

The NASA Kepler/K2 space telescope is obtaining high-precision brightness measurements in the ecliptic plane, including solar system planets. A time-lapse movie released by NASA shows the motion of Neptune as observed by the K2 mission from November 2014 to February 2015, including two of its largest moons, Triton and Nereid.

Using the brightness variations recorded by K2, astronomers aim to measure oscillations in Neptune which will help to understand its interior structure, and analyze brightness variations in the Sun through light reflected off Neptunes atmosphere. SIfA astronomers are using K2 data to study oscillations in stars, trace the origin and evolution of stellar populations in our galaxy, and characterize transiting exoplanets.