• Question: is there any planets humans can not find with the biggest telescopes

    Asked by 648grak42 to Maggie, Ryan on 17 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Ryan Cutter

      Ryan Cutter answered on 17 Nov 2017:


      Yes! We find it a lot harder to find smaller planets. It’s like looking at a flock of birds flying in the sky and trying to see a flea on one of the birds!
      The bigger the telescope, the higher the resolution. This means we’d need a really big telescope to see the smallest planets (and that is very expensive!)
      Unfortunately, the stars are also so bright they overpower the poor little planets. We can’t see them over the brightness of the star.
      It can also be that the planets and their stars are too far away so we just can’t see them 🙁
      Great Question,
      Ryan

    • Photo: Maggie Lieu

      Maggie Lieu answered on 17 Nov 2017:


      Planets are small and they don’t emit light so they are very difficult to find anyway. There are a few ways to find them though, one of the most popular is with transits. This is when you measure the amount of light from a star. When a planet orbits in front of the star the light will decrease, and when the planet orbits behind the star the light increases again. The change in the amount is really small though and is even smaller if the planet is really small.

      Even with the biggest telescopes we won’t see all planets because some planets don’t orbit stars, these are called rogue planets and since they don’t emit light and can’t reflect light because they don’t orbit a star, they would be impossible to detect!

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