This project entails a study of the process of discovery and properties of exoplanets,
planets that orbit around stars other than our Sun. This project has 3 components:
- A study of how astronomers find exoplanets via the transit method, using real
- A study of how astronomers find exoplanets via the Doppler Shift or radial velocity
- A short research paper on a particular exoplanetary system
Submit your assignment online through turnitin as a pdf, with the file name:
Part 1: Transit Method
The transit method uses the light curve, which tracks the brightness of a star over time.
Any periodic decrease or dip in brightness may be due to a planet transiting, or crossing
in front of the star. Light curves for four stars are given on the attached sheets. For each
light curve, follow the described method to estimate the planetary period and average
distance from the planet to the star.
Also answer the attached general questions on the transit method.
Part 2: Doppler Shift or Radial Velocity Method
The Doppler shift or radial velocity method uses information about the periodic motion of
a star due to one or more planets orbiting around the star. This information is gathered
using the spectra from a star, collected over a period of time.
Answer the attached questions, and describe this method used to find exoplanets.
Part 3 Essay on an Exoplanetary System
Choose at least one exoplanetary system, and write a short (minimum 3 pages of text;
12-point double spaced) essay that includes the following:
• type/class of star
• a detailed description of the method of detecting the exoplanet
• the structure and layout of the system (i.e. number of planets discovered, distance
from star, eccentricity/shape of orbits, masses of planets)
• likelihood that any of the planets are in the habitable zone (need to define habitable
• any unusual facts about or properties of the planet
• references in APA or MLA format (reference all images used; see “How to write an
essay on a scientific topic” on moodle)
• proper use of in text citations
Research starting points
• good exoplanet site; many links www.exoplanets.org
• catalogue of exoplanets: http://exoplanet.eu/catalog/
• NASA Finds Closest Earth Twin Yet http://www.space.com/30026-earth-twinkepler-452b-exoplanet-discovery.html
• HARPS project http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1134/
• direct imaging of planets
• closest exoplanetary system
• news release on exoplanet discovery in habitable zone (Gleise 581g)
• microlensing techniques
• new results: