Astronomy Chapter 10 Practice Questions

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What is an extrasolar planet?

A planet that orbits a star that is not our own Sun

The first confirmed detections of extrasolar planets occurred in ____________.

the 1990’s

What do the astrometric, Doppler, and transit methods share in common?

They all search for planets by measuring properties of a star rather than of the planets themselves.

The astrometric method looks for planets with careful measurements of a star’s _________.

position in the sky

In essence, the Kepler mission searched for extrasolar planets by ____________.

monitoring stars for slight dimming that might occur as unseen planets pass in front of them

Can we determine orbital distances for extrasolar planets using the astrometric, Doppler, or transit methods?

Yes: All three methods give us direct information about a planet’s orbital period, from which we can use Newton’s version of Kepler’s third law to calculate the planet’s distance.

Why do we say that the Doppler method gives a planet’s "minimum mass"?

The size of the Doppler shift that we detect depends on the tilt of a planet’s orbit.

Which of the following statements is not true about the planets so far discovered around other stars?

Photographs reveal that most of them have atmospheres much like that of Jupiter.

What do we mean by a "hot Jupiter"?

a planet that is Jupiter-like in size but orbits very close to its star

Overall, what do current data suggest about planetary types in other planetary systems?

Planets come in a wider range of types than the planets in our solar system.

Based on current data, about what fraction of stars have one or more planets?

at least about 70%

Which new idea has been added into our theory of solar system formation as a result of the discoveries of extrasolar planets?

Jovian planets can migrate from the orbits in which they are born.

Which of the following might explain the lack of "water worlds" —small planets made mostly of water or other hydrogen compounds—in our own solar system?

In our solar system, the solar wind did not clear out gas until relatively late.

How is the GAIA mission relevant to the search for extrasolar planets?

It can detect planets through the astrometric method.

From the viewpoint of an alien astronomer, how does Jupiter affect observations of our Sun?

It causes the Sun to move in a small ellipse with an orbital period of about 12 years.

Suppose you are using the Doppler method to look for planets around another star. What must you do?

Compare many spectra of the star taken over a period of many months or years.

In general, which type of planet would you expect to cause the largest Doppler shift in the spectrum of its star?

a massive planet that is close to its star

Suppose a planet is discovered by the Doppler method and is then discovered to have transits. In that case, we can determine all the following about the planet except ______________.

its rotation period

The transit method allows us in principle to find planets around __________.

only a small fraction of stars that have planets

You observe a star very similar to our own Sun in size and mass. This star moves very slightly back and forth in the sky once every 4 months, and you attribute this motion to the effect of an orbiting planet. What can you conclude about the orbiting planet?

The planet must be closer to the star than Earth is to the Sun.

Which of the following will allow you to learn something about a transiting planet’s atmospheric composition?

Compare spectra obtained before and during an eclipse.

Very few of the known extrasolar planets have sizes as small as Earth. The most likely reason for this fact is that ________.

small planets are more difficult to detect than larger planets

Based on everything you have learned about the formation of our solar system, which of the following statements is probably not true?

Only a tiny percentage of stars are surrounded by spinning disks of gas during their formation.

To date, we’ve found very few planets orbiting their stars at distances comparable to the distances of the jovian planets in our solar system. Why do astronomers think this is the case?

We have not yet been searching for planets at such distances for a long enough time.

Current evidence suggests that some massive jovian planets orbit at very close orbital distances to their stars. How do we think these planets ended up on these close orbits?

These planets migrated inward after being born on orbits much farther from their stars.

Assuming that our ideas about how "hot Jupiters" ended up on their current orbits are correct, why didn’t our own solar system end up with any hot Jupiters?

Our solar nebula must have been blown into space shortly after the formation of the jovian planets.

When is the soonest we are likely to have moderate-resolution images and spectra of Earthlike planets around other stars?

In a decade or two, through space observatories now in the early planning stages.

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