NASA Telescope Sheds Light Onto Dark Worlds

NASA Telescope Sheds Light onto Dark Worlds

Peering outside the purview of the solar system and into the depths of far and distant worlds used to be a pipe dream. At the present moment, more than 1,000 planets have been discovered by NASA telescopes. The Milky Way is teeming with planets. Now, scientists set out to answer a more interesting question: Are any of these planets habitable? In attempting to answer this question, the Kepler Telescope has shed light onto some dark worlds.

The NASA Telescope can shed light onto distant worlds through a phenomena known as the Doppler Shift. When light is approaching an object, the wavelengths are shifted to the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum. When light is moving away from an object, the wavelengths are emitted to the blue end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Although astronomers cannot directly see planets, they can detect their presence. Stars are not fix balls of gas, but slight jiggle by the gravitational tug exerted by orbiting planets. This causes a shift in the star’s spectrum. By measuring the wobble of a star, scientists can determine the mass and composition of neighboring planets.

Astronomers can also use these methods to calculate the density of planets. By calculating the density of planets, scientists are able to determine the planets chemical composition. The research cross confirmed the existing of 41 planets detected by the Kepler Telescope using ground based telescopes locating at the University of Hawaii. Exactly 16 of the planets had their mass calculated, which allowed scientists to determine whether they consisted of rock or gas. The data gathered suggests that the planets are slightly smaller than Neptune and mostly consist of hydrogen and helium.

Planets form by condescending out of a disk left over from the formation of a star. The Kepler Telescope was utilized to determine the size, structure and orbital paths of far and distant worlds. In studying the dynamics of aloof solar systems, scientists can gain a better understanding why our solar system formed the way it did.

Nearly three-quarters of the planets discovered by the Kepler Telescope have sizes that range from the Earth to Neptune, which encompasses a sphere four times larger than the Earth’s. NASA issued a four-year report on the far and distant worlds at the American Astronomical Meeting held in Washington. The report confirms the measurements of the planets provided by the Kepler Telescope are indeed accurate.

The reports also confirmed the existence of five, rocky planets. Two of the five planets are approximately five times larger than the Earth coupled with a composition consisting mostly of led. Unfortunately, these planets do not occupy what astronomers dub “the habitable zone”–a distance from a star that can support liquid water. The planets are in close proximity to their host star, orbiting around the entire ball of gas in less than five and three days. The heat from the sun consumes the planet, leaving a landscape of inferno devoid of water.

As the NASA Telescope sheds light onto dark worlds, astronomers gain a better understand of where the Earth fits into the cosmic arena. In doing so, scientists are one step closer to discovering life-sustaining worlds. For the time being, however, the Earth is where we make our stand.

By Nathan Cranford

Clarksville Online
Scientific American

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