Detecting Unusual Stellar Shapes: Looking for Perturbed Planets

In summary, The shape of the star is not important for detecting bodies orbiting it. The star is usually not assumed to be a perfect sphere, but rather oblate due to its rotation. However, this deviation from a perfect sphere is minimal and does not affect the detection of planets. By checking for nearby stars and assuming the laws of physics are the same everywhere, we can be sure of this even for distant stars. Pulsations of stars may complicate measurements, but it is possible to distinguish them from planetary influences.
  • #1
wolram
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
4,446
558
How can we be sure that when looking for planets there sun is not a perfect sphere and just looks like it is being perturbed by a gravitating body?
 
Astronomy news on Phys.org
  • #2
The star is usually not assumed to be a perfect sphere ... the shape of stars is determined by physics that are well known.
Most stars would be oblate due to their rotation ... but only slightly so a sphere is a very good approximation - especially considering the distances involved.
We can be sure of this for distant stars the same way we can be sure of anything - we check for nearby stars, and assume that the laws of physics are pretty much the same everywhere.

However the shape of the star is not important for detecting bodies orbiting it.

http://www.planetary.org/explore/sp...anets.html?referrer=https://www.google.co.nz/
You can have a go working out how far off spherical the star would have to be to give it the appearance of the kinds of wobbles measured.
 
  • Like
Likes wolram
  • #3
Pulsations of stars are indeed something that can mess up radial velocity and intensity measurements, but those pulsations don't have the same structure as influences of planets, so it is possible to separate them. In the worst case you just stop looking for planets around a star that is too chaotic.
 
  • Like
Likes wolram
  • #4
wolram said:
How can we be sure that when looking for planets there sun is not a perfect sphere and just looks like it is being perturbed by a gravitating body?
Are you referring to detection by the transit or Doppler method?
 

1. What is the main objective of detecting unusual stellar shapes?

The main objective of detecting unusual stellar shapes is to identify potential exoplanets in orbit around a star. By studying the shape of a star, scientists can determine if it is being gravitationally pulled or distorted by a nearby planet.

2. How do scientists detect unusual stellar shapes?

Scientists use a technique called photometric variability to detect unusual stellar shapes. This involves measuring the changes in a star's brightness over time. If a star's brightness varies in a regular pattern, it could indicate the presence of a planet.

3. Why is it important to detect perturbed planets?

Detecting perturbed planets is important because it can give us valuable information about the formation and evolution of planetary systems. It can also help us to better understand the diversity of planets in our galaxy and the potential for habitable worlds.

4. What are some challenges in detecting unusual stellar shapes?

One of the main challenges in detecting unusual stellar shapes is differentiating between natural variations in a star's brightness and the effects of a nearby planet. This requires careful data analysis and confirmation from multiple observations.

5. How can the detection of unusual stellar shapes contribute to the search for extraterrestrial life?

The detection of unusual stellar shapes can contribute to the search for extraterrestrial life by identifying potential exoplanets that may have the conditions necessary for life to exist. This information can then be used to prioritize future studies and observations of these planets.

Similar threads

Replies
6
Views
734
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
11
Views
518
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
15
Views
1K
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
17
Views
2K
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
45
Views
4K
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
17
Views
2K
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
2
Views
1K
Back
Top