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Stella Chan~

on 11 November 2013

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Transcript of Exoplanets

So if that's just our solar system...
What about the Milky way?!
In our Solar system, there is...
The Sun
Eight Planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune
116 natural satellites
5 known dwarf planets: Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Haumea and Makemake
Billions of stars
The Asteroid Belt, Meteors and Comets
And that's our Solar System in a nutshell.
We're about here.
First things first...
What on Earth is an Exoplanet?!
Extra-solar planets, or exoplanets for short are planets located outside our Solar System. In the Milky way alone there's an estimated 100-400 billion planets. As of October 31st 2013, over a thousand of these have been discovered, however only 990 confirmed. Of the total 990 exoplanets, 0.3% (3) have been determined to be Mercury-sized; 0.7% (7), Mars-sized; 1.1% (11), Earth-sized; 11.14% (110), Super-Earth-sized; 14.8% (148), Neptune-sized and 71.6% (711), Jupiter-sized.

What Solar Systems are they in?
Most known planets orbit single stars, like our sun, but there have been several discoveries of planets which orbit binary stars (which are stars that orbit each other). These are called circumbinary planets.
There are also planets which don't even have a host star, and are just randomly floating in the middle of space! These are called "rogue" or interstellar planets, they are also called nomad planets, free-floating planets or orphan planets
How they're named
Exoplanets usually get their names from their parent or host star, with a lower case letter added to it (usually the letter 'b', unless it's in a circumbinary system). Any other planets found after are given the next letter down (c,d,e) and so on. However, there are planets such as Kepler 22b, which get their names from the telescope that discovered it.
There are several ways to detect exoplanets.
• Radial velocity (or the Doppler Method)
• Transit method
• Transit timing variation
• Gravitational microlensing
• Astrometry
• Pulsar timing
• Pulsation frequency (Variable star timing)
• Orbital light variations
• Relativistic beaming
• Ellipsoidal variations
• Polarimetry
• And last, but not least Circumstellar discs

Surely in the 100-400 billion planets in the galaxy, there has to be at least one planet that we could live on... Right???
We can't be too sure yet, but...
Over the past six years, there have been many discoveries of planets that could be habitable for other lifeforms, complex or not, an maybe even us humans. A lot of these discoveries have been made by NASA's Kepler Spacecraft.
For a planet to be considered habitable for life it has to...
Be in the circumstellar zone, also dubbed as the 'Goldilocks Zone'. This is a area around a star in which planets or moons with an able atmosphere could possibly support liquid water.
Many planets have been claimed, and several have been confirmed to be situated in this zone from their parent stars. According to scientists, the closest of these could be twelve years away.
Potentially habitable planets include...
Google Images
Full transcript