Using the Web

1.
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Go to the “Extrasolar Planets Global Searches” Web page (http://exoplanet.eu/searches.php) of the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia, which lists many of the current and future projects looking for planets. Click on one ongoing project under “Ground” and one ongoing project under “Space.” What method is used to detect planets in each case? Has the selected project found any planets, and if so, what type are they? Now click on one of the future projects. When will the one you chose be ready to begin? What will be the method of detection?
2a.
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Using the exoplanet catalogs:

Go to the “Interactive Extra-solar Planets Catalog” Web page (http://exoplanet.eu/catalog.php) of the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia and click on “All Candidates detected.” Look for a star (in the left column) that has multiple planets. Make a graph showing the distances of the planets from their star, and note the masses and sizes of the planets. Put the Solar System planets on the same axis. How does this extrasolar planet system compare with the Solar System?
2b.
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Go to the “Exoplanets Data Explorer” website (http://exoplanets.org), and click on “Table.” This website lists planets that have detailed orbital data published in scientific journals, and it may have a smaller total count than the site in (a). Pick a planet that was discovered this year or last, as specified in the “First Reference” column. What is the planet’s minimum mass? What is its semimajor axis and the period of its orbit? Is its orbit circular or more elliptical? Click on the star name in the first column to get more information. Is there a radial velocity curve for this planet? Was it observed in transit, and if so, what is the planet’s radius and density? Is it more like Jupiter or more like Earth?
3a.
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Go to the website for the Kepler Mission (http://kepler.nasa.gov).

How many confirmed planets has Kepler discovered? How many planet candidates? What kinds of follow-up observations are being done to verify whether the candidates are planets?
3b.
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Click on “News” and note the options. “Manager Updates” reports on issues with the spacecraft and telescope hardware; is the telescope working? “NASA Kepler News” includes press releases and conference presentations. “Kepler in the News” has reports about Kepler in the media. Read a recent story in each category. What is being reported? Why is it news? Did the general media pick up this story?
4.
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Go to http://www.planethunters.org/. PlanetHunters is part of the Zooniverse, a citizen science project that lets individuals participate in a major science project using their own computers. To participate in this or any of the other Zooniverse projects in later chapters, you will need to sign up for an account. Read through the sections under “About,” including the FAQ. What are some of the advantages to having many people look at these Kepler data, instead of just one person or a computer program? Back on the PlanetHunters home page, click on “Tutorial” and watch the “Introduction” and “Tutorial Video.” When you’re ready to try looking for planets, click on “Classify” and begin. Remember to save a copy of your stars if required for your homework assignment.
5.
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Go to the website for the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=26). This mission is scheduled for launch in 2013. Is it in space or delayed? Click on the “Extra-solar Planets” link on the left-hand side. What method(s) will Gaia use to look for planets? What are the science goals? If the mission is already in space, click on “News.” Have some planets been found?

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