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Exoplanet Classification Lab Essay

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SPS1020: Intro to Space Sciences
Exoplanet Classification Lab
Pre-Pre Lab Assignment
Due, Thurs, 10/17, 12:30 p.m.
In this Pre-Pre Lab, you will be familiarizing yourself with the currently known properties of exoplanets using an online tool at exoplanets.org. Exoplanets.org is a research-grade tool that professional scientists use to explore the properties of exoplanets. It is updated almost daily with the most recent data. Every planet that you see has received significant amounts of research and study and we are benefiting from hundreds of thousands of man-hours of observational work and probably upwards of a billion dollars of NASA funding (mostly devoted to the Kepler Space Telescope). The exciting results that you will manipulate and see in this Lab are cutting-edge and completely unknown a generation ago, even though people have been wondering about these questions for millennia.
The goal of the Lab is to place all known exoplanetary systems into a few different populations or categories and to identify any interesting exceptions. Let’s define a “population” as a set of planetary systems that have similar physical (planet masses, radii, densities, etc.) and orbital (number of planets, semi-major axes, eccentricities, spacing between planets, etc.) characteristics. A population similar to the terrestrial planets in our solar system would have a few small planets (masses and radii within a factor of ~3 of the Earth) that have periods of hundreds of days and have period differences that are about 100 days.
[What does the “~” mean? In physicist parlance, this means “about” or “roughly” or “within a factor of a few” or “ish”. So, ~3 means “kinda 3ish”. Why did we choose 3? An object that is 3 Earth-radii or 3 Earth-masses is probably still kinda terrestrial, but a planet that is 6 Earth-radii is probably more similar to a Jovian planet (Jupiter = 10 Earth radii).]
A Hot Jupiter planet is not in the same population as the solar system: wrong size, wrong...

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