Originally posted by Lonewolf Hmm, interesting. Just two questions for now. What does he mean by the i in M*sin(i)? And what's the signifigance of M*sin(i). Afraid I've not come across this before.
this is a standard term in the exoplanet search (exosolar planet search) where i is the inclination of the orbit relative to the observer
in most cases the planet is detected by wobble, changes in the radial speed of the star, by doppler effect
If the observer is in the plane of the star and planet two-body motion (inclination = 0) then one measures the whole wobble
if the inclination is 90 degrees one wouild not see any wobble
in general the inclination is unknown and one sees a fraction of the wobble which is sine(inclination).
therefore one systematically underestimates the mass of the planet, in fact ones estimate of the mass is only sin(i) times the mass, where the inclination is an unknown number between zero and one
and so the tables show sin(i)M because one cannot actually say anything about M itself
as parttime astronomer you will see that the mass of the star itself is told by the color etc. -----so knowing the period will tell the distance from the star and knowing the wobblespeed and the distance will tell the mass of the planet----but one only knows sine(inclination) X wobblespeed
EXCEPT in a few cases where the planet actually passes in front of the disk of the star and notches the lightcurve----there are a few of these inclination=0 cases where one has two handles on the problem