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Title: Planets and Stars under the Magnifying Glass

Abstract

Looking out to the vastness of the night sky, stargazers often ponder questions about the universe, many wondering if planets like ours can be found somewhere out there. But teasing out the details in astronomical data that point to a possible Earth-like planet is exceedingly difficult. To find an extrasolar planet--a planet that circles a star other than the Sun--astrophysicists have in the past searched for Doppler shifts, changes in the wavelength emitted by an object because of its motion. When an astronomical object moves toward an observer on Earth, the light it emits becomes higher in frequency and shifts to the blue end of the spectrum. When the object moves away from the observer, its light becomes lower in frequency and shifts to the red end. By measuring these changes in wavelength, astrophysicists can precisely calculate how quickly objects are moving toward or away from Earth. When a giant planet orbits a star, the planet's gravitational pull on the star produces a small (meters-per-second) back-and-forth Doppler shift in the star's light. Using the Doppler-shift technique, astrophysicists have identified 179 planets within the Milky Way galaxy. However, most of these are giant gas planets, similar in size to Jupiter andmore » Saturn, and they orbit parent stars that are much closer to them than the Sun is to Earth. Planets similar in size to Earth have also been found, but they, too, are so close to their suns that they would be much hotter than Earth and too hot for life to exist. In 2005, an international collaboration of astronomers working with telescope networks throughout the Southern Hemisphere uncovered clues to a small, rocky or icy planet similar to Earth. The new planet, designated ogLE-2005-BLg-290-Lb, is the farthest planet from our solar system detected to date. The discovery was made by the Probing Lensing Anomalies network (PLAnET) using microlensing--a technique developed nearly two decades ago by Livermore astrophysicists as part of the Massively Compact Halo object (MACHo) Project, which searched for evidence of dark matter.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
907853
Report Number(s):
UCRL-TR-228150
TRN: US200721%%552
DOE Contract Number:
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
99 GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS//MATHEMATICS, COMPUTING, AND INFORMATION SCIENCE; GLASS; MILKY WAY; NIGHT SKY; NONLUMINOUS MATTER; PLANETS; SOLAR SYSTEM; SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE; STARS; SUN; TELESCOPES; UNIVERSE; WAVELENGTHS

Citation Formats

Hazi, A U. Planets and Stars under the Magnifying Glass. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.2172/907853.
Hazi, A U. Planets and Stars under the Magnifying Glass. United States. doi:10.2172/907853.
Hazi, A U. Mon . "Planets and Stars under the Magnifying Glass". United States. doi:10.2172/907853. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/907853.
@article{osti_907853,
title = {Planets and Stars under the Magnifying Glass},
author = {Hazi, A U},
abstractNote = {Looking out to the vastness of the night sky, stargazers often ponder questions about the universe, many wondering if planets like ours can be found somewhere out there. But teasing out the details in astronomical data that point to a possible Earth-like planet is exceedingly difficult. To find an extrasolar planet--a planet that circles a star other than the Sun--astrophysicists have in the past searched for Doppler shifts, changes in the wavelength emitted by an object because of its motion. When an astronomical object moves toward an observer on Earth, the light it emits becomes higher in frequency and shifts to the blue end of the spectrum. When the object moves away from the observer, its light becomes lower in frequency and shifts to the red end. By measuring these changes in wavelength, astrophysicists can precisely calculate how quickly objects are moving toward or away from Earth. When a giant planet orbits a star, the planet's gravitational pull on the star produces a small (meters-per-second) back-and-forth Doppler shift in the star's light. Using the Doppler-shift technique, astrophysicists have identified 179 planets within the Milky Way galaxy. However, most of these are giant gas planets, similar in size to Jupiter and Saturn, and they orbit parent stars that are much closer to them than the Sun is to Earth. Planets similar in size to Earth have also been found, but they, too, are so close to their suns that they would be much hotter than Earth and too hot for life to exist. In 2005, an international collaboration of astronomers working with telescope networks throughout the Southern Hemisphere uncovered clues to a small, rocky or icy planet similar to Earth. The new planet, designated ogLE-2005-BLg-290-Lb, is the farthest planet from our solar system detected to date. The discovery was made by the Probing Lensing Anomalies network (PLAnET) using microlensing--a technique developed nearly two decades ago by Livermore astrophysicists as part of the Massively Compact Halo object (MACHo) Project, which searched for evidence of dark matter.},
doi = {10.2172/907853},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Feb 12 00:00:00 EST 2007},
month = {Mon Feb 12 00:00:00 EST 2007}
}

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