Girls Exploring the Universe!

July 8 - 12 2019, University of Virginia


Q. How do astronomers detect exoplanets?

There are a variety of ways to detect exoplanets. The most common is by watching light from the host star dim as the planet passes in front of the star, which is similar to how clouds passing in front of the Sun create shade. Astronomers watch a star to see if it dims, and by tracking the light over time, they can start to understand how big the exoplanet is.

They do this by first creating a lightcurve, which is the brightness of the star measured over time. Use the website below to model lightscurves and follow your worksheet.