Looking At Those Exoplanets!

February 24, 2011 at 8:26 PM (Uncategorized)

Still stuck on space studies; I can’t get enough!  I was checking my e-mail, and I got a memo from one of the sites that I visit, often.  It was a memo discussing one of my favorite topics, the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

This particular site delved into the details regarding other planets that are outside of our solar system, yet exist within our Milky Way Galaxy.  It did some elaborating on the recent studies that are being done by U.S. astronomers.  These details are providing information which expands upon the findings of likely more than fifty billion exoplanets within our galaxy!

Astronomers are hard at work, gathering data to support their findings.  Currently, at least three main methods are being used to identify exoplanets, those which exist beyond our solar system.  The astrometry method is used by observing oddities with light being emitted by distant stars.  Researchers are able to identify orbiting planets by watching how much the star wobbles over various lengths of time.

The microlensing method shows how light emissions are changed because of gravitational pulls.  When passing planets move around their stars, the amount of light from that star that is visible changes.  As well, levels of radio waves that are produced by the stars are distorted due to planetary orbits.

The radial velocity method measures the speed of distant planets in orbit around their host stars.  The power of gravitational pulls on distant stars can be measured, observing the rate at which orbiting planets, or even the gravity of our remote Earth, pull on the star.  This manner of measurement is called The Doppler Method, also.

Changes in emitted starlight are noted through studies that use the transit technique.  This allows astronomers to observe the reductions in emitted starlight as a planet passes in front of the viewing range.  This type of study can provide details about an alien planet’s mass and size, also.  The transit technique has allowed for the largest amount of exoplanets to be identified, of the 502 planets discovered, existing beyond our solar system.  The Kepler Mission Spacecraft uses this technique also, having identified more than 750 exoplanets!

The vast majority of these planets are gas giants, which have such extreme sizes that the forces of their gravitational pulls on their host stars are easily identified.  Yet, certainly, there are smaller, rocky planets, similar to our Mercruy or Mars, or even like our EarthJust how much like our Earth is the ultimate question?!?!?!

planets moving around the sun









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