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Name: Antonio Vettraino

PHY 1040 Lab – Detecting Exoplanets


Turn in this assignment to castoldi@oakland.edu and jeschemk@oakland.edu in Word or
PDF format. Subject of the email: ‘PHY 1040 – Lab 3 – your lastname’

II – The Transit Method


When a star is orbited by an exoplanet, and the exoplanet moves
between us and the star, some of the star’s light will be blocked,
resulting in a decrease of the observed brightness of the star.
A simulation of the sequence of the event is shown in Figure 2 below,
along with a graph representing the dimming of the star’s brightness.

Brightness

Time
Figure 2 – Transit of an exoplanet in front of a star

[For Multiple Choice Questions: highlight your choice]


1. The graph below shows how the brightness of a star changes over time due to the fact that it is
orbited by an exoplanet. How does the exoplanet’s orbital period around its star compare to the orbital
period of the Earth around the Sun?
Brightness

Time
3 6 9 12 15 18 (months))

a) It is greater than Earth’s orbital period


b) It is less than Earth’s orbital period
c) They are equal

2. You observe two identical stars (Star A and star B), that are at the same distance from Earth.
The graphs below show how the observed brightness of Star A and Star B change over time.
Which star is orbited by the larger exoplanet?
Brightness

Star A

3 6 9 12 15 18 Time
(months)
Brightness

Star B

3 6 9 12 15 18 Time
(months)

a) Star A is orbited by a larger exoplanet


b) Star B is orbited by a larger exoplanet
c) Both exoplanets are the same in size

3. You observe two identical stars (Star A and star B), that are at the same distance from Earth.
The graphs below show how the observed brightness of Star A and Star B change over time.
Which star has the exoplanet that orbits at the larger distance from the parent star?
Brightness

Star A

3 6 9 12 15 18 Time
(months)
Brightness

Star B

3 6 9 12 15 18 Time
(months)

a) Star A’s exoplanet orbits at a larger distance


b) Star B’s exoplanet orbits at a larger distance
c) Both exoplanets orbit at the same distance

4. The graph below shows how the amount of light we detect from a star changes over time as
it is orbited by an exoplanet. To answer the questions below, use the letters A, B or C.
A B C
Brightness

a) Where on the graph the exoplanet is completely in front of the star?


• C
Time
b) Where on the graph the exoplanet is not in front of the star at all?
Graph A

• A

Brightness
c) Where on the graph the exoplanet is beginning to transit in front of the star?
• B
Time

5. Describe what the exoplanet is doing when the light we detect from the star begins to
increase from the least amount of light to the greatest amount of light.
The planet keeps orbiting in its rotation and begins to move away from in front of the star.

6. Examine the two graphs below. Which one cannot represent a real situation? Why so?

Graph A Graph B

Graph B is incorrect because according to it, when the star gets in front of the planet, its orbit
speed up tremendously, which would not happen, the orbits speed would stay at a steady pace.

7. In the figure below, four different exoplanet-star systems are shown on the left, and four
graphs of brightness on the right. Match each exoplanet system to the proper graph.

System 1: C System 2: D System 3: A System 4: B

System 1
Graph B
Brightness

System 2
Time
Graph C

Brightness
System 3
Graph D
Time

Brightness

System 4

Time
Explain your reasoning for the matches you chose.
First of all, the width of the dips determine the size of the planet, the wider the dip, the bigger
the planet is. Second of all, if the brightness of the star is dimmer, it means the planet is further
away from it since it covers the star more and dims it.

8. The graphs 1 and 2 below show the observed brightness of two identical stars over time.
Graph 1 shows the observed brightness of Star 1, which is orbited by a small exoplanet.
Graph 2 shows the observed brightness of Star 2, which is orbited by a large exoplanet.

Graph 1
Brightness

Time
Graph 2
Brightness

Assume that Graph 1


is correct. State
whether each
of the features of Graph 2 listed below are correct or incorrect. Explain your reasoning.

a. Sides of the dips


Incorrect, because the orbit of the planet wouldn’t just skip like that, it would continue in a
gradual rotation.

b. Duration of the dips


Correct, because the planet is larger, its duration it longer.

c. Time between dips


Incorrect, the dips should occur at the same frequency because the two planets are at the same
distance from the star.

d. Depth of the dips


Correct, since the planets are identical, because graph 2 is a bigger planet, it is covering more of
the star therefore making it dimmer.

9. The graph below shows the observed brightness of a star over time. How many exoplanets
are likely to orbit this star? Explain your reasoning.
rightness
2 Planets orbit this star because the small dips occur the same distance away from each other,
while the big dips are also evenly spread out.

10. Based on the information you gathered from the graph, complete the blanks in the
sentence below by highlighting your choice.

The smaller exoplanet is ________ (closer to/farther from) the star and
the larger exoplanet is ________ (closer to/farther from) the star.