What is an exoplanet? Everything you need to know

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered the most exoplanets

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched for the first time in 2009, was dedicated to the search for exoplanets. Initially, the Kepler mission was supposed to last only 3.5 years, however, this spacecraft continued its investigations until 2018. This telescope definitively discovered more than 2,600 exoplanets.

The possibility of exoplanets around stars with high metallicity

Most of the physical materials in the world are composed of hydrogen and helium. Metallicity is the term astronomers use to describe elements other than helium and hydrogen. According to data collected by the Kepler telescope, stars with more diverse elements are more likely to host exoplanets in their orbits.

Using the gravitational microlensing method to observe exoplanets

In the gravitational microlensing method, a star other than the exoplanet host is used. When a star passes in front of another star, its gravity acts like a lens that magnifies the light of the other star. If the lensed star has a planet in its orbit, the exoplanet’s mass increases the magnification effect. Astronomers used this method to search for more than 20 exoplanets.

Most exoplanets were discovered through radial velocity

The general rule for identifying exoplanets is to observe the motion of their star. This method, which is also called Doppler oscillation, has been the most successful method for discovering exoplanets, so far 400 planets have been discovered this way. The radial velocity of the star changes due to the gravitational pull from the planet around it. In this case, the star seems to be sliding.

The transit method is the easiest way to find exoplanets

The transit method, which from our point of view is the burning of a star, is one of the common methods for discovering exoplanets. Using this method, astronomers can estimate the orbits and mass of exoplanets from Earth through their flickering frequency.

Exoplanets can orbit more than one star

Unlike the Solar System, where planets orbit a single star, some planetary systems can have more than one star. These double or triple systems provide unique contexts with multiple radiation sources.

Exoplanets can have harsh climates

Some exoplanets show strange weather phenomena. Hot Jupiters, for example, can reach scorching temperatures and violent storms.

Some exoplanets have strange orbits

Not all exoplanets follow an elliptical or circular pattern of orbital motion. Some planets have eccentric, elongated orbits, taking an adventurous journey around the axis of their star.

Exoplanets can have unique atmospheres

By analyzing the light passing through the atmosphere of exoplanets, scientists can reach interesting insights about the composition of these planets. The atmosphere of some exoplanets has elements such as iron vapor, carbon dioxide and even methane.

An exoplanet is a planet outside the solar system that is classified into different groups and types. The first group are rocky planets similar to Earth or larger than Earth, which are also called super-Earths. Super-Earths can eventually become gas planets known as mini-Neptunes. The next group is the gas planets, which are divided into gas giants, ice giants, and hot Jupiters.

So far, more than 5000 exoplanets have been discovered and confirmed, and this number is increasing day by day. According to estimates, there are only 10 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way. Earth-like planets are usually located in the life belts of their stars. In the zone of the life belt, the temperature of the planet is so suitable that it is possible for surface liquid water to flow on it, and this feature can increase the potential for life. Researchers hope to get more data from exoplanets by building more advanced telescopes because understanding exoplanets will help us to better understand our planet and the world around us.

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