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published by the Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska
written by Kevin M. Lee
This learning module introduces the search for planets outside of our solar system using the radial velocity and transit methods. The module is based on the solar nebula theory of planet formation, the idea that planets form as a natural by-product of star formation. Planets around other stars proved very elusive to find until 1995, when astronomers in Geneva detected an exoplanet using the radial velocity (or Doppler) technique. Since that time, hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered in this manner, by observing displacements in a star's spectral lines due to the Doppler effect. A second detection technique (the transit method, used in The Kepler Mission) is also explored in this module.

In the simulations, students can control the stellar and planetary properties and the system orientation. They can then observe how the graph is affected. Instructor resources are available including student manuals, assessment materials, and a list of the assumptions used.

Editor's Note: Exoplanet searching is exciting, but there is a learning curve for students to understand how radial velocity is related to center of mass in a sun/planet system. How do astronomers decide which detection method to use, and how are the results different? See Annotations for links to recommended supplementary materials.

This is part of a collection of astronomy applets.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Astronomy
- Exoplanets
= Detection Methods
= Properties
Classical Mechanics
- Gravity
= Orbits
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Center of Mass
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Upper Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
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Intended Users:
Learner
Educator
Format:
application/flash
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2007 University of Nebraska
Permission is granted to use for noncommercial purposes as long as it remains unmodified.
Keywords:
Doppler radial velocity method, exoplanet, extrasolar planet, light curve, transit method
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created August 20, 2008 by Alea Smith
Record Updated:
January 27, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 30, 2008
Other Collections:

Exoplanet Data Explorer (Publisher: California Planet Survey Consortium)
Date: 01/27/2012

This interactive table and data plotter allows members of the public to explore the Exoplanet Orbit Database, which organizes data on hundreds of extrasolar planets with robust, well measured orbital parameters reported in peer-reviewed articles. It offers a cost-free means for teachers and learners to generate publication-ready plots for use in lessons or presentations.

PlanetQuest: The Search for Another Earth (Publisher: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Are we alone? Is there another planet like Earth out there somewhere, and how would we find it? This website provides extensive information about the search for extrasolar planets, including information on exploratory missions, detection technologies, images and videos, and vignettes about the people involved in the projects. It will help students build a foundation to understand the difference between the radial velocity method and the transit method of planet detection. The interactive simulations are appropriate for grades 6-12:  "Extreme Planet Makeover" and the "PlanetQuest Timeline".

Kepler Mission: A Search for Habitable Planets (Publisher: NASA Ames Research Center )
Date: 01/27/2012

NASA's Kepler Mission was launched in 2009 with the focused goal of surveying regions of the Milky Way Galaxy to discover Earth-size planets within stars' habitable zones. More than 2,000 candidates were identified by the end of 2010. Of those, two Earth-size candidates have been confirmed as of January, 2012. Follow the adventure with classroom activities, interactive resources, simple animations showing how Kepler's detection system works, and galleries of photos, videos and 3D images. The Kepler photometer employs the Transit Method of exoplanet detection. This website provides excellent animations of how it works.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.


Topic: Astronomy
Unit Title: Astronomy Activities

This learning module introduces the search for planets outside of our solar system using the radial velocity and transit methods.  Planets around other stars proved very elusive to find until 1995, when astronomers in Geneva detected an exoplanet using the radial velocity (or Doppler) technique. Since that time, hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered in this manner. A second detection technique (the transit method, used in The Kepler Mission) is also explored in this module.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Astronomy
Unit Title: Astronomy Activities

This learning module introduces the search for planets outside of our solar system using the radial velocity and transit methods.  Planets around other stars proved very elusive to find until 1995, when astronomers in Geneva detected an exoplanet using the radial velocity (or Doppler) technique. Since that time, hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered in this manner. A second detection technique (the transit method, used in The Kepler Mission) is also explored in this module.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
K. Lee, (Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2007), WWW Document, (http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html).
AJP/PRST-PER
K. Lee, Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab (Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2007), <http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html>.
APA Format
Lee, K. (2008, June 30). Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab. Retrieved August 22, 2014, from Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska: http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html
Chicago Format
Lee, Kevin. Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab. Lincoln: Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, June 30, 2008. http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html (accessed 22 August 2014).
MLA Format
Lee, Kevin. Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab. Lincoln: Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska, 2007. 30 June 2008. 22 Aug. 2014 <http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Kevin Lee", Title = {Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab}, Publisher = {Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {22 August 2014}, Month = {June 30, 2008}, Year = {2007} }
Refer Export Format

%A Kevin Lee
%T Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab
%D June 30, 2008
%I Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska
%C Lincoln
%U http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Lee, Kevin
%D June 30, 2008
%T Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project: Extrasolar Planets Lab
%I Astronomy Education at the University of Nebraska
%V 2014
%N 22 August 2014
%8 June 30, 2008
%9 application/flash
%U http://astro.unl.edu/naap/esp/esp.html


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