Free-Floating Planets: Journey of the Universe's Lonely Orphans (Fall 2018)
In this project we will investigate rogue planets, formally known as Free-Floating Planets (FFPs). We will explore how their existence was initially supposed, and how they may be detected. Most exoplanets are detected using properties related to their host star, so detecting planets that orbit no star poses significant difficulties. Techniques like transit observation, the radial velocity method, and astrometry are all inapplicable. The primary goal of this research is to determine how rogue planet detection occurs, and establish why this method of detection is reliable. The answer is that Gravitational Microlensing is the primary method used in rogue planet detection, and its credibility arises from its derivation from Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Research into the origins and properties of rogue planets can tell us interesting things about the formation of our own solar system, the composition of Dark Matter in our galaxy, and the conditions necessary for life.
An Exploration into the Exoplanet "Luyten B" (Winter 2018)
Exoplanets are planets that are located outside of our solar system. They were once thought to be rare but, as time has gone on, more and more are being discovered. Luyten, or GJ273, is a star located 12.36 light years away from the sun. Surrounding it, are two incredibly intriguing exoplanets that have caught the attention of many astronomers. Luyten B is a planet that is incredibly close to earth, and is categorized as a potential “Super-Earth”. While there are many variables that are unknown, which may dismiss the planets habitability, the possibility and promise of Luyten B having potential to hold liquid water on its surface makes it one that can bring excitement to research and curiosity. What our research will explore is how Luyten and its exoplanet Luyten B were discovered, the type of star it is and how this affects habitability, the habitability zone and its implications for potential life, and its orbit and rotation. Luyten C, Luyten’s inner planet, is located too close to its host star to have the chance to have liquid water.
An incredibly fascinating aspect of this exoplanet in particular is that upon the release of the hopeful likelihood that this planet could potentially support life, METI (Messaging extra-terrestrial Intelligence) International put together an encoded sonar message containing 6 different musical compositions and encoded mathematical and scientific tutorials. Doug Vakoch, president of METI states that; “we’ve sent a signal we would like to receive here on earth”. They predict that if the message is received and processed we could receive a response as soon as 2042.
Kepler 452b: Second Earth (Fall 2017)
The possibility for life on other planets is something that has captivated our society since we first began exploring the space that exists beyond our earth. Technology is currently limited to only viewing these planets existing outside our solar system, however, it is plausible that with technology continually advancing, in the future these planets may not seem so far out of reach. In 2015, the earth-like exoplanet Kepler 452b was discovered by the NASA Kepler telescope.1 This discovery prompted an inquisition into the possibility for this planet to sustain life. Though this concept cannot currently be accepted or denied, this research will explore the parameters necessary for life on exoplanets, and which of these may be possible for Kepler 452b.
The Search for Exoplanets: A Habitable Suitor (Winter 2017)
The hunt for exoplanets is one of the fastest-growing enterprises in astronomy, and for very good reason. An exoplanet, or extra-solar planet, is any planet that orbits a star other than our own Sun. These planets vary in size and distance from their star. If we can find planets with similar composition and features to Earth, we may discover extraterrestrial life, or a potential future home for humanity. This page will explore one of the most bountiful results of the exoplanet search, TRAPPIST-1, anaylsing the composition of this planetary system and the methods used by astronomers to discover it, and how research of this planet will proceed in the future.
The Search for Exoplanets: A Habitable Suitor (Winter 2017)
Since humanity first turned its eyes towards the night sky and gazed in awe at the infinite wonder of the universe, we have been captivated by space. Exploration and discovery is as much a part of our human nature, as our desire to observe the depths of our origins, and understand the unknown. The search for exoplanets is one of the foremost, growing fields in the exploration of space. Exoplanets are planets located in distant extrasolar systems, orbiting stars other than our own, and vary in size from larger than Jupiter, to smaller than Earth.
Proxima Centauri B: Is there an Earth-like planet orbiting our nearest neighbour? (Fall 2016)
Proxima Centauri B is a planet that orbits a star outside of the solar system, which is known as an exoplanet. This exoplanet was thought to be previously discovered in 2012 by astronomers but proved to be a false signal due to insufficient data. Advancements in instruments allowed researchers to verify the signal which led to the discovery of exoplanet Proxima Centauri B in 2016
Solar Systems Beyond (Winter 2016)
Until relatively recently in human history, our observational capacity from Earth has been rather limited. Presently technological advancements and innovations have arisen allowing us to uncover and understand more of the mysteries and intricacies of the universe. Recent observational research initiatives have led to the discovery of planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. These discoveries have raised many questions including whether or not any planets would be capable of supporting life, which has fueled motivation for additional research