Using Einstein’s Theory to Find New Planets

Most of us have heard of Einstein’s theory of relativity but most have no idea what types of applications the theory can be used for. It turns out that the theory can be effectively used alongside high quality instrumentation to find new planets many light years away.

Astronomers have recently used the theory to discover a new exo-planet, or planet outside our own solar system. Kepler-76b, nicknamed “Einstein’s Planet”, was the first exo-planet discovered in this fashion. By observing an effect on parent stars known as “beaming”, the astronomers were able to identify the plant. Beaming is a phenomenon in which the gravitational pull from a large planet pulls the parent star slightly closer to Earth causing the light from the star to intensify for a split second and vice versa. The planet also reflects a small amount of light from the parent star which only helped to confirm the discovery. In order to observe this phenomenon, the scientists used NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft to gather the necessary data.

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