For about the last decade, exoplanets have been found using one of two methods: radial velocity (looking for wobbling stars) and transits (looking for dimming stars).
Now, Tel Aviv University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have discovered a new exoplanet using a new method that relies on Einstein’s special theory of relativity and data from the Kepler Space Telescope. The planet was identified using the BEER algorithm (relativistic BEaming, Ellipsoidal, and Reflection/emission modulations).
Contrary to popular belief, BEER was developed by Professor Tsevi Mazeh and his student, Simchon Faigler, at Tel Aviv University, Israel (not in Egypt in the 5th century B.C.).
The BEER method looks for three small effects that occur simultaneously as a planet orbits the star. Einstein’s “beaming” effect causes the star to brighten as it moves toward us, tugged by the planet, and dim as it moves away. The brightening results from photons “piling up” in energy, as well as light getting focused in the direction of the star’s motion due to relativistic effects.
“This is the first time that this aspect of Einstein’s theory of relativity has been used to discover a planet,” said co-author Tsevi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University.
“Einstein’s planet,” formally known as Kepler-76b, is a “hot Jupiter” that orbits its star every 1.5 days. Its diameter is about 25 percent larger than Jupiter and it weighs twice as much. It orbits a type F star located about 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.
The planet is tidally locked to its star, always showing the same face to it, like Mecury. As a result, Kepler-76b broils at a temperature of about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Ex astris, scientia –
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