For this set of Storybook Research, I’m making an effort to find some materials to make my third and final story in my storybook a little more realistic.
In the story, I currently mention instances in the literature of exoplanets “disappearing.” In fact, this has happened before, in a sense, with exoplanets identified by extrapolating from sparse data not being predicted when more comprehensive observations are available.
In 2015, for example, it was established that the exoplanet thought to be closest to Earth was actually a mirage caused by “patchy data” and overzealous interpretation.
Similarly, two potentially “life-
friendly alien worlds” orbiting Gliese 581 (or GJ 581 to its friends) were recently found to be artifacts of the star’s strong magnetic behavior.
In interesting but unrelated astrophysics, scientists have also found an exoplanet that is “disappearing” (at cosmic timescales of billions of years), giving off enormous quantities of mass.
In the story I also refer to a completely made up name for a star, so I thought I’d look into star naming. Most stars have many names, each from a different naming scheme. Most stars, outside of those like Sirius that have their own names, can be named based on their position in some star catalogue. There are many such catalogues, and they are often updated; Gliese 581 gets its name from being the 581st entry in the Gliese catalogue, which was first compiled by astronomer Wilhelm Gliese in 1957.