Monday, 7 August 2017
Stellar Cartography: Spotting an Exoplanet
With some contrast and brightness adjustment, you can reduce low brightness stars sufficiently to catch a peek. In this case we get a huge blue sphere about ten percent smaller than the physical size of the star (had we the capacity to strip back every ounce of light) orbiting at a distance of five Proxima Centauri diameters from Proxima Centauri and further afield a greyish rock (multiple images means it was moving and in one of those odd orbits) perhaps a quarter of the diameter of big blue.
We can develop a complex image of these planets by sampling the pixels, and it provides us with an approximation of what the planets are like visibly.
What distinguishes these bodies from background noise is the way the darkest pixels line up through the lightest pixels pointing at the star.
Are we looking at the Intruder orbit planet swinging in and the orbiting (and apparently massive) Planet P? Proxima B is considered much closer by comparison... certainly not a distance five times the diameter of Proxima.