Detecting Planets

Nearly all extrasolar planets have been found through their gravitational effect on stars. Just like the stars in a binary system, a star and its planets orbit their common center of mass, or barycenter. In a planetary

system, this point is likely to be well within the parent star, but by studying its light spectrum at regular intervals, astronomers can detect minute red and blue shifts as the star "wobbles" around the barycenter.

light is red-shifted as star orbits away from us

light is red-shifted as star orbits away from us

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