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Transiting planets

The second method for indirect detection of exoplanets is based not on the motion of the star but on its brightness. When the orbital plane of the planet is tilted or inclined so that it is viewed edge-on, we will see the planet cross in front of the star once per orbit, causing the star to dim slightly; this event is known as transit    . [link] shows a sketch of the transit at three time steps: (1) out of transit, (2) the start of transit, and (3) full transit, along with a sketch of the light curve, which shows the drop in the brightness of the host star. The amount of light blocked—the depth of the transit—depends on the area of the planet (its size) compared to the star. If we can determine the size of the star, the transit method tells us the size of the planet.

Planet transits.

Illustration of a Planet Transits. At the bottom of the figure is a graph. The vertical axis is labeled “Brightness”, in arbitrary units increasing upward, and the horizontal axis is labeled “Time”, in arbitrary units increasing to the right. A curve is plotted showing the brightness of the star as constant. After a time the brightness suddenly drops for a short duration before returning to its original value. At the top of the figure the disk of a star surrounded by an ellipse representing the orbit of a planet is shown. On the ellipse are drawn three dots representing the position of a planet at three different times in its orbit around the star. At position 1 the planet is to the left of the star. A dashed line connects the planet to the plotted curve. At this position the dashed line intersects the curve at a point of constant brightness. At position 2 the planet is just beginning to cross the face of the star. A dashed line connects the planet at position 2 to the curve where the brightness begins to drop. Finally, at position 3, the planet is fully in front of the star and the dashed line from the planet intersects the curve where the brightness is at minimum.
As the planet transits, it blocks out some of the light from the star, causing a temporary dimming in the brightness of the star. The top figure shows three moments during the transit event and the bottom panel shows the corresponding light curve: (1) out of transit, (2) transit ingress, and (3) the full drop in brightness.

The interval between successive transits is the length of the year for that planet, which can be used (again using Kepler’s laws) to find its distance from the star. Larger planets like Jupiter block out more starlight than small earthlike planets, making transits by giant planets easier to detect, even from ground-based observatories. But by going into space, above the distorting effects of Earth’s atmosphere, the transit technique has been extended to exoplanets as small as Mars.

Transit depth

In a transit, the planet’s circular disk blocks the light of the star’s circular disk. The area of a circle is π R 2 . The amount of light the planet blocks, called the transit depth , is then given by

π R 2 planet π R 2 star = R 2 planet R 2 star = ( R planet R star ) 2

Now calculate the transit depth for a star the size of the Sun with a gas giant planet the size of Jupiter.

Solution

The radius of Jupiter is 71,400 km, while the radius of the Sun is 695,700 km. Substituting into the equation, we get ( R planet R star ) 2 = ( 71,400 km 695,700 km ) 2 = 0.01 or 1%, which can easily be detected with the instruments on board the Kepler spacecraft.

Check your learning

What is the transit depth for a star half the size of the Sun with a much smaller planet, like the size of Earth?

Answer:

The radius of Earth is 6371 km. Therefore,
( R planet R star ) 2 = ( 6371 km 695,700 / 2 km ) 2 = ( 6371 km 347,850 km ) 2 = 0.0003 , or significantly less than 1%.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

The Doppler method allows us to estimate the mass of a planet. If the same object can be studied by both the Doppler and transit techniques, we can measure both the mass and the size of the exoplanet. This is a powerful combination that can be used to derive the average density (mass/volume) of the planet. In 1999, using measurements from ground-based telescopes, the first transiting planet was detected orbiting the star HD 209458. The planet transits its parent star for about 3 hours every 3.5 days as we view it from Earth. Doppler measurements showed that the planet around HD 209458 has about 70% the mass of Jupiter, but its radius is about 35% larger than Jupiter’s. This was the first case where we could determine what an exoplanet was made of—with that mass and radius, HD 209458 must be a gas and liquid world like Jupiter or Saturn.

Questions & Answers

what is comets , astroids ,
Sumit Reply
hi, I am yamini, I am in class 8 but very much interested in astronomy and go to NASA, what are the subjects in which I can master and lead to NASA.
yamini Reply
Hello Yamini, Im Ken and I'm avery intrested in joining the NASA too. Is nice to meet you.
Ken
very*
Ken
nice to meet u ken
yamini
What I know about the subjects is that you have to be a master on science and math, also if you know about aviation is better too
Ken
I read that the Russian language is very important, is not a requirement but it's like an extra point!
Ken
yeah like physics, chemistry and maths, they are my most favorite.
yamini
than you can go free of cost
Arush
Yes, That's right!
Ken
how
yamini
Oh! Free of cost?
Ken
hello yamini nice to meet you
Burak
what is time
Abdul Reply
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
It has been proven that there are water molecules on Mars but not enough that most lifeforms could thrive upon.
Ariana
There are huge amounts of water in the ice caps and under the surface. The surface and chemistry indicate that Mars had cosiderable amounts of water on its surface in the past.
Julius
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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