Kepler May Uncover Numerous Ring Worlds : Discovery News


In Star Wars Episode II “Attack of the Clones,”� a deadly cat-and-mouse chase between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett takes place in a rocky ring encircling the desert planet Geonosis.

We don’t have such a planet in our solar system, but rings made of rock or silicates might be common in the Milky Way galaxy. And, there is a chance the planet-hunting Kepler space observatory might find them says Hilke Schlichting of UCLA, in a recently posted paper.

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BIG PIC: Meet Kepler’s Entire Exoplanet Family

Kepler can’t photograph exoplanets, much less rings. But it is building an unprecedented planet survey by measuring the telltale dimming of a star as a planet passes across the face of it. (This only works if the planet’s orbit is tilted edge-on to our view from Earth). The signature of the planet with rings would have a different-shaped shadow transit footprint from that of a planet without rings (as shown in the chart here for various transit paths.)

via Kepler May Uncover Numerous Ring Worlds : Discovery News.

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