Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Finds a Planet Similar to Earth

Einstein was right again! It is amazing that over a hundred years ago the specific and general theory of relativity was published by Albert Einstein the odd mathematician that spent months in his basement thinking and testing mathematical models. This theory is still being tested with a high level of success and recently found a new Earth like planet far away in space. You may read Einstein’s concepts in Relativity: The Special and General Theory.

The BEER algorithm (Beaming effect with Ellipsoidal and Reflection/emission modulations) was used to discover a new planet (Kepler-76b) with earth like qualities. This planet’s existence was confirmed through more traditional methods. What is unique about this instance is that it sheds further credibility on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The planet is one of the first to show super-rotational (surface rotation such as clouds, wind, etc…) evidence in the Kepler band area of space. 

The planet exists in the constellation Cygnus which is around 2,000 light-years from Earth. The size of the planet is approximately 1.25X the size of Jupiter. As this planet moves around its star it maintains the same angle and face to this planet. This means the same side always is pointed toward its mother star as it rotates around the planet. 

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used the Kepler Space Telescope to view the star from three effects as it moved through its orbit. 

Three Effects:

-Beaming/Doppler Boosting: The changes in light radiance that occur when gravity pushes and pulls the light beams.

-Gravitational Tides: When viewed from certain angles the planet can seem larger or smaller.

-Starlight Reflection: Detecting the reflection of light on the planet.

The Theory of Relativity encourages an understand that as the light moves closer to us it will become brighter and as it moves away from us it will be less bright. By using the telescope and the BEER algorithm scientists were able to determine these differences and narrow in on a planet. They then use other methods to verify its existence.

The measurements are so small that the human eye and an earth based telescope would not be able to see them. Using a space telescope the scientists were able to watch light infractions for over a hundred days to find the differences. It is these differences compared to their surroundings that allowed them to notice the planet for the first time. The actual research shows how outliers are factored into the explanation. 

The basic Theory of Relativity postulates that space and time should be seen together.  Objects are relative to each other. As objects are in motion in relation to other objects in motion they are as though they are standing still. Specific Relativity indicates that the law of physics is the same for all non-accelerated observers. The theory moves on to explain how gravitational pulls can bend light and distort trajectories. It is this distortion of light that had led to a new methodology of understanding our solar system.

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