Shooting a distant world may not be enough to determine what kind of planet it is. We know this because, outside our solar system, all other planets except Jupiter can be mistaken for Earth to some extent.
When you take a direct picture of an exoplanet (called an exoplanet) and detect it, the image usually gives you only two things: the degree of appearance, the ants of the planet, and the apparent distance from the stars.
Keithly and Dmitry Savransky, Dean of the University of Cornell in New York, investigated a phenomenon known as planetary chaos. Based solely on these two pieces of information, I questioned whether a planet could be mistaken for a planet. Using our solar system as an example, they calculated how often different planets may have properties that make us think of them as Earth from a distance.
“Intuitively, you’ll think that bright planets are big and distant stars are far away,” says Nicolas Cowan of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. But that’s not the case. In fact, the apparent degree of a planet is related to its size and reflectance, and its apparent position is related to its actual distance from the star and its position in orbit.
Researchers have discovered that part of Venus’s orbit can be mistaken for Earth in about 72% of its views. Mars and Mercury are the next most likely angles that make up our planet-you can see confusion at about 43% and 36% of them, respectively. Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are less than 4% Earth-like, and Jupiter is so large that it never looks like Earth in any way.
This combination can be a costly mistake. “The initial cost of a 1.5-day observation of an exoplanet is about $ 2.4 million,” Keighley said. “So if we make a discovery and want to track it because it looks like Earth, we’re probably wasting $ 2.4 million and time we could use to find other alien planets. Will be. “
Fortunately, other Earth-like planets can exist in our solar system from different angles, but they are less likely to actually occur. “It’s true that Neptune, Saturn, or if you put them in orbit, you can impersonate the Earth, but that’s really unlikely,” Cowan said. “The clock breaks twice a day, but it’s really unlucky to see the broken clock and tell it the correct time.”
That doesn’t matter either. Observations of extrasolar planets multiple times over time reveal their true distance from the stars. Other types of observations, such as examining the color of the light reflected from a planet, can help identify what the world is like. But when we look for a world like Earth in the distant universe, we need to be careful to see what the exoplanets we detect actually look like.
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