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Terrestrial Planet Finder is a device to find Earth-like planets. We are looking for planets that are nearly twins of Earth, but some differences are expected because of the planet's size, environment, and history.
We will recognize such a planet by its spectrum as shown here:
An Earth-like planet is a rocky planet. Such planets will be found quite close to their star, where the temperatures are too high for the planet to be mainly made of ice. We will recognize the amount of heat on a planet by its distance from its star, and we will confirm the temperatures by the broad overall shape of its spectrum. Cool planets will be brighter at the long wavelength end of their spectrum; hot planets will be brighter at the short wavelength end.
A small object like the Moon has too little gravity to hold an atmosphere. However, an object this small could be detected in a nearby system because it would be only 12 times fainter than Earth. It could be recognized because it would show no atmospheric absorption features in its spectrum.
Types of Stars
Main Sequence Stars - The main sequence is the point in a star's evolution during which it maintains a stable nuclear reaction. It is this stage during which a star will spend most of its life. Our Sun is a main sequence star. A main sequence star will experience only small fluctuations in luminosity and temperature. The amount of time a star spends in this phase depends on its mass. Large, massive stars will have a short main sequence stage while less massive stars will remain in main sequence much longer. Very massive stars will exhaust their fuel in only a few hundred million years. Smaller stars, like the Sun, will burn for several billion years during their main sequence stage. Very massive stars will become blue giants during their main sequence.
Red Giants - A red giant is a large star that is reddish or orange in color. It represents the late phase of development in a star's life, when its supply hydrogen has been exhausted and helium is being fused. This causes the star to collapse, raising the temperature in the core. The outer surface of the star expands and cools, giving it a reddish color. Red giants are very large, reaching sizes of over 100 times the star's original size. Very large stars will form what are called red supergiants. Betelgeuse in Orion is an example of a red supergiant star.
White Dwarfs - A white dwarf is the remnant of an average-sized star that has passed through the red giant stage of its life. After the star has used up its remaining fuel. At this point the star may expel some of its matter into space, creating a planetary nebula. What remains is the dead core of the star. Nuclear fusion no longer takes place. The core glows because of its residual heat. Eventually the core will radiate all of its heat into space and cool down to become what is known as a black dwarf. White dwarf stars are very dense. Their size is about the same as that of the Earth, but the contain as much mass as the Sun. They are extremely hot, reaching temperatures of over 100,000 degrees.
Brown Dwarfs - A brown dwarf could also be called a failed star. During the process of star formation, some protostars never reach the critical mass required to ignite the fires of nuclear fusion. If the protostar's mass is only about 1/10 that of the Sun, it will glow only briefly until its energy dies out. What remains is a brown dwarf. It is a giant ball of gas that is too massive to be a planet but not massive enough to be a star. They are smaller than the Sun but several times larger than the planet Jupiter. Brown dwarfs emit no light or heat. They could account for some of the dark matter suspected to exist in the universe.
Variable Stars - A variable star is a star that changes in brightness. These fluctuations can range from seconds to years depending on the type of variable star. Stars usually change their brightness when they are young and when they are old and dying. They are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic variables change their brightness because of conditions within the stars themselves. Extrinsic variables change brightness because of some external factor, like an orbiting companion star. These are also known as eclipsing binaries.
Binary Stars - Many stars in the universe are part of a multiple star system. A binary star is a system of two stars that are gravitationally bound to each other. They orbit around a common point, called the center of mass. It is estimated that about half of all the stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system. Visual binaries can be seen as two separate stars through a telescope. Spectroscopic binaries appear as one star and can only be detected by studying the Doppler shifts on the star's spectrum. Eclipsing binaries are binary systems where one star blocks the light from another as it orbits its companion.
Originally posted by TheInfamousOne
Your effort is admirable, but unless people get a telescope and go out at night and start to recognize what's in the sky. It's kind of useless book knowledge unless they try to apply what you're trying to teach.
*Supermassive Black Hole-A very large black hole that is at least 5 solar masses in mass.
The solar mass is a standard way to express mass in astronomy, used to describe the masses of other stars and galaxies. It is equal to the mass of the Sun, about two nonillion kilograms or about 332,950 times the mass of the Earth, or 1,048 times the mass of Jupiter. Its conventional symbol and value are:
See link for formulas,as this is a basic intro thread.
The solar mass can be determined from the length of the year, the distance of the Earth to the Sun (the astronomical unit) (AU), and the gravitational constant (G) as
Until recently[when?], neither the AU nor the gravitational constant was precisely known. However, a determination of the relative mass of another planet in the Solar System or of a binary star in units of solar masses does not depend on these poorly known constants. So it was useful to express these masses in units of solar masses (see Gaussian gravitational constant).