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MIT planetary scientists Julien de Wit and Sara Seager just devised a method that enables them to weigh an exoplanet by measuring the starlight that shines through its atmosphere. It's so simple, it's genius. See, when an exoplanet passes in front of its star, it causes a blip in the amount of light that shines toward Earth. This is actually how we're able to discover exoplanets in the first place.
Not all of the starlight zooms past the exoplanet, though. Some is actually filtered through the atmosphere, and by measuring the spectrum of that light, the MIT scientists are able to learn all kinds of things about the planet, such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, and gravitational pull. With that information, they've come up with a new method for calculating not just atmospheric chemistry but a planet's weight and mass.
reply to post by NiZZiM
Yeah I found that also a bit confusing when I read this article. Perhaps they meant Jupiter. But does the fact remain: Can astronomers now determine this difference between gaseous vs rocky type surface?
Is it just me or are the majority of methods of finding, measuring, figuring out composition etc, of planets, cannot be proven? yet most people take these THEORIES as FACT, because they say it is so.
With that being said, i think it is fascinating what theories they can come up with. If it is true it is pretty awesome, however, until someone lands on one of these planets that they have found, measured its size and composition, and proven it I will hold it as just that, a Theory