Meet Kepler's 'Earth-Sized' Exoplanets →
An IM Chat between DiscoveryNews Editor-in-Chief...
Lori Cuthbert: hi. quick question
Ian: fire away!
Lori Cuthbert: is evvery star system on the same plane as us ie: edge-on?
Lori Cuthbert: or is it the orientation of the telescope?
Ian: just a few
Basically, they are generally randomly oriented to us. Some are side on, some are end on
Lori Cuthbert: do they maneuver the telescopes around to look at the different star systems from different angles til they get lucky?
Ian: With Kepler, they look at a wide patch of sky, waiting to see if one of the stars in the field of view dims.
Lori Cuthbert: so they're just looking at ones that are oriented that right way
Ian: when that happens, they know there's a system of planets edge-on
Lori Cuthbert: so there could be bazillions more that aren't observable by us
Thats when another exoplanet detection method comes in. If they're not edge-on, and IF the planets are massive enough, they might "tug" on their star as they orbit
Lori Cuthbert: oh that's right
Ian: Some telescopes are set up to look for the "wobble" of stars
Lori Cuthbert: they distort their stars' gravitational fields?
Ian: But Kepler is the only 'scope capable of finding glow mass, tiny planets that are Earth sized
Lori Cuthbert: i see.
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