Rubin Planetarium Video - Exoplanets
Extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, are planets that orbit around stars other than the Sun. The first exoplanet was discovered in 1992. As of March 2019 there are about 4000 known exoplanets. Exoplanets as large as 30 times the mass of Jupiter and as small as the size of Earthʼs moon have been discovered. Most of the known exoplanets have been discovered by NASA Kepler mission, which used the transit method to detect them. With this method, an exoplanet is discovered when it passes in front of the star it orbits. As the planet “transits” in front of the star, the star becomes slightly dimmer.
Because LSST will regularly measure the brightness of billions of stars, it will also be capable of detecting exoplanets with the transit method. It is expected that LSST will discover “hot Jupiters” and “hot Neptunes,” gas-giant planets that orbit close to their star. Most remarkably, LSST will have the sensitivity to detect exoplanets around stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which may mark the first time an exoplanet is discovered around a star in another galaxy.
This sequence moves through an exoplanetary system, showing worlds with a variety of features and compositions. It visually establishes the concept of planetary transits.
We start close to the star, with two planets visible at the rear left.
We pull back past the innermost planet, shown as a terrestrial world with a lava-covered surface. The star-facing side is molten, with more crusty material on the back side, suggesting the planet is tidally locked to its star (the same side always faces the star), as can be the case with close orbits.
We pull past the second planet, which is shown covered completely in clouds. This is an analogue of Venus.
A rocky planet passes next on the right.
A fourth planet passes on the left.
Our frame of reference has pulled far enough away that we now begin to see the inner planets transiting in front of the star, starting with the innermost planet. Having seen each of these worlds before the transit, their identities as planets should be clear as they are shown blocking small bits of the star as they pass in front.
A fifth and final planet pulls into view. This one is in the starʼs habitable zone, and is shown to have clouds and oceans. The inner planets continue transiting the star as we pull farther and farther away.
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