AST101Lab9 - Astronomy 101 Online - Hunt for Alien Worlds...

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Astronomy 101 Online - Hunt for Alien Worlds Introduction : In this lab, you will be introduced to the process of finding planets around other stars. You will learn about the history of finding planets outside of our solar system, you will research the most recent results in the search for extrasolar planets, and you will look at some current and future missions that will search for planets. Start by going to the following website: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html . In the sidebar on the left side of the page, click on the link marked "Science". Now click on the link entitled "Finding Planets" which has now appeared in the sidebar. 1. Why is it so difficult to find planets orbiting other stars? Basically there are three main reasons, they don’t emit light, they are extremely far away from us, and their stars’ blinding light most of the time prevents discovery. 2. In your own words, explain (in 2 to 3 sentences each) the first two methods for detecting extrasolar planets. (These are the first methods devised for finding planets beyond our solar system.) Doppler shift- This method is used by measuring the “wobble” in a planets parent stars. The way this is measured is by the light waves emitted by the star and this data is then used to calculate the mass and orbit. Astrometric measurement- This way is similar to the Doppler shift only it’s looking from small orbital displacement circles which planets do a stars orbit. This method can be used with narrow angle astronomy and could potentially detect a planet such as Earth 33 light years away.
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This note was uploaded on 10/06/2008 for the course ASTRO 100 taught by Professor Kaler during the Fall '08 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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AST101Lab9 - Astronomy 101 Online - Hunt for Alien Worlds...

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