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(Gizmodo)   Astronomers just figured out how to weigh entire planets using starlight. That's heavy, man   (gizmodo.com) divider line 25
    More: Interesting, planets, astronomers, starlight, atmospheric chemistry, Planetary Science, Sara Seager  
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1294 clicks; posted to Geek » on 19 Dec 2013 at 8:03 PM (17 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



25 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-12-19 05:52:51 PM
With this method astronomers can now also deduce whether the planet is gassy like Venus or rocky like Earth.

Venus has a thick atmosphere, but that doesn't make it a "gassy" planet.  It's rocky like Mercury, Earth, and Mars.
 
2013-12-19 06:02:30 PM
Does this star make Venus' butt look big?
 
2013-12-19 06:58:32 PM

phlegmmo: With this method astronomers can now also deduce whether the planet is gassy like Venus or rocky like Earth.

Venus has a thick atmosphere, but that doesn't make it a "gassy" planet.  It's rocky like Mercury, Earth, and Mars.


Please. Venus had Greek last night and is starting her period tomorrow. She's gassy as fark.
 
2013-12-19 08:11:57 PM
www.joblo.com
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-12-19 08:13:06 PM
Astronomers have been doing occultation experiments to measure atmospheres since more or less forever. In the 1990s they started using gravitational lensing to measure mass.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-12-19 08:14:37 PM
MIT planetary scientists Julien de Wit and Sara Seager just devised a method that enables them to weigh an exoplanet by measuring the starlight that shines through its atmosphere.

More specifically, MIT planetary scientists were doing occultation experiments since at least the 1980s (Jim Elliot was studying Pluto's atmosphere).
 
2013-12-19 08:19:57 PM
Hmmm. All planets "weigh" the same: 0. They're in free-fall.
 
2013-12-19 08:30:06 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Hmmm. All planets "weigh" the same: 0. They're in free-fall.


A lot of science journalists use 'weight' and 'mass' interchangeably, even though they shouldn't.
 
2013-12-19 08:51:08 PM

phlegmmo: With this method astronomers can now also deduce whether the planet is gassy like Venus or rocky like Earth.

Venus has a thick atmosphere, but that doesn't make it a "gassy" planet.  It's rocky like Mercury, Earth, and Mars.


Your arguing with a Gakwer Media page. Expecting anything of any educational value from them is like expecting an active volcano to keep your beer cold.
 
2013-12-19 08:56:02 PM
I'm starting to get the feeling that astronomers make a lot of crap up.

I mean, it's not like we can actually weight other planets to verify their claims.
 
2013-12-19 09:13:00 PM
ecx.images-amazon.com

So now we know.
 
2013-12-19 09:58:48 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Hmmm. All planets "weigh" the same: 0. They're in free-fall.


You should send Gizmodo an email.
 
2013-12-19 10:05:56 PM

ZAZ: MIT planetary scientists Julien de Wit and Sara Seager just devised a method that enables them to weigh an exoplanet by measuring the starlight that shines through its atmosphere.

More specifically, MIT planetary scientists were doing occultation experiments since at least the 1980s (Jim Elliot was studying Pluto's atmosphere).


Miskatonic University has been conducting occult experiments since at least 1920.
 
2013-12-19 10:45:57 PM
 
2013-12-19 10:50:27 PM
Ironically enough, they both are and aren't lightweight.
 
2013-12-19 11:09:11 PM
Weighing planets? ...according to what, Earth gravity?
 
2013-12-19 11:36:32 PM

ZAZ: Astronomers have been doing occultation experiments to measure atmospheres since more or less forever. In the 1990s they started using gravitational lensing to measure mass.


ZAZ: MIT planetary scientists Julien de Wit and Sara Seager just devised a method that enables them to weigh an exoplanet by measuring the starlight that shines through its atmosphere.

More specifically, MIT planetary scientists were doing occultation experiments since at least the 1980s (Jim Elliot was studying Pluto's atmosphere).


Yeah, they have, but now they're doing it to planets light years away using such a small fraction of light that it makes Pluto look as bright as Venus by comparison.

baconbeard: I'm starting to get the feeling that astronomers make a lot of crap up.

I mean, it's not like we can actually weight other planets to verify their claims.


Nah, you can determine a planet's mass by multiple means, ever since Henry Cavendish determined the density of the Earth, and as a by product the mass of the Earth and the gravitational constant.

Basically, if there is anything you can measure in which mass plays a role, and you can figure out the other variables in the equation, then you can figure out the mass.

For instance, if you can figure out the mass of the star (which is pretty easy from it's temperature and luminosity), and the orbit of the planet in question, then you can easily determine the mass of the planet.

If you can't determine the mass of the star, but you can measure how the planet and star interact through the orbit, then you can determine the combined mass of the star and the planet, and by determining the distance from each object to the center of mass (the point which both objects orbit about) you can determine the ratio of mass between the two objects which when combined with the combined mass tells you the mass of each one.

If you have sensitive enough instruments then you can measure the amount that light bends around the object, thus determining it's mass.

What they seem to be doing in the article though is measuring the effect that a planet's atmosphere has on light passing through it at different distances from the planet.  Since this effect is dependent on atmospheric conditions, and atmospheric conditions at different heights depend on a few things like composition (spectroscopically determinable), temperature, and pressure (determinable by the effect that it has on light passing through it), and all these things relate back to how strongly the planet is holding the atmosphere to itself (how much gravity/mass it has), then you can figure out the mass of the object from how it's holding onto its atmosphere.

etc. etc.

And since all these different methods must give a result equal to one another, you can use other methods as checks against one method.
 
2013-12-20 12:39:56 AM
I assume this is because of HEAVY METAL s

/And there have been a thousand psychic wars
 
2013-12-20 04:50:03 AM
Astronomers note obesity epidemic in extra solar planets.
 
2013-12-20 09:20:11 AM
A little detail on how it works would have been nice.  I'm guessing based on size and the type of atmosphere they can guestamate the mass required to maintain that atmosphere.

I'm just seeing a lot of possible error in this method no matter how its done so I crave more details than its uses the atmosphere and its genius.
 
2013-12-20 09:41:00 AM

Felgraf: Quantum Apostrophe: Hmmm. All planets "weigh" the same: 0. They're in free-fall.

A lot of science journalists use 'weight' and 'mass' interchangeably, even though they shouldn't.


A lot of Space Nutters use "species" and "me me me" interchangeably, even though they shouldn't.
 
2013-12-20 10:19:22 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: Hmmm. All planets "weigh" the same: 0. They're in free-fall.


Ahh, the old massive attack ...
 
2013-12-20 11:40:00 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: A lot of Space Nutters use "species" and "me me me" interchangeably, even though they shouldn't.


That's far from unique to Space Nutters, though. Political ideologues, life-extension nutters, and sociologists are also fond of the mix-up.
 
2013-12-20 05:03:36 PM

Millennium: Quantum Apostrophe: A lot of Space Nutters use "species" and "me me me" interchangeably, even though they shouldn't.

That's far from unique to Space Nutters, though. Political ideologues, life-extension nutters, and sociologists are also fond of the mix-up.


The difference is that I've exposed more than a few of "we, the species" types as selfish misanthropes. I want everyone to have the choice to live longer and better lives. That's the difference. The massive amount of (non existent) space hardware required just to send a handful of people to Mars (never gonna happen anyways) guarantees that it will never affect the species.

Surgeons washing their hands before operating is already a species-level improvement we ALL have right now.

The Space Nutters have yellowing 35 year old posters.

If at least they were honest about it.

"I just want to float around in space in a very expensive space ship to get my jollies, screw everyone else."

None of this self-aggrandizing "species" horseshiat.
 
2013-12-20 09:09:03 PM

Pocket_Fisherman: A little detail on how it works would have been nice.  I'm guessing based on size and the type of atmosphere they can guestamate the mass required to maintain that atmosphere.

I'm just seeing a lot of possible error in this method no matter how its done so I crave more details than its uses the atmosphere and its genius.


I believe I described what they're doing pretty well a few posts above yours.
 
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