# Investigation: Transit Tracks

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2 4. Analyze light curves. Hand out a set of 5 sample graphs of Transit Light Curves to each group of 2-5 students and have them interpret the graphs. Pose these questions: How big is the planet compared with the star? Assuming the star is Sun-like, and that arth would make at 0.01% drop in brightness of the Sun if it transited, how big is the planet compared with arth? What is/are the period(s) of the planet(s)? (In arth years.) How far is the planet from its star? (Use graph of Kepler s 3rd Law) Lead a whole class discussion about the graphs, ultimately aiming at answering the questions. D. Making Light Curves 1. Students create their own light curves, choosing planet size and orbit radius, and figuring out how to make the period for their graphs. 2. Trade light curves. They then trade graphs with other groups and challenge each other to figure out what kind of planet system they created. Optional: Collect Real Data If you have a light sensor, computer with sensor interface, graphing software, and a computer display projector, place the light sensor in the plane of the planet/ bead orbit and aim sensor directly at the light. Collect brightness data and project the computer plot in real time. Let the students comment on what they are observing. Instead of swinging beads, you may use a mechanism, known as an orrery, to model the planets orbiting their star. Instructions for building an orrery from LGO parts may be found on the NASA Kepler Mission website at Optional Transit Math. Have the students compute planet size (from transit depth) and distance from its star (from transit period and Kepler s 3rd Law. See write-up for this at A B C D -0.05% -0.1% -0.15% -1.5% -2.0% p Time (in hours) 2008 by the Regents of the University of California

3 Transit Light Curves for Tracking Transits Investigation p. 3 A B C D -0.05% -0.1% -0.15% -1.5% -2.0% Time (in hours)

5 Orbit Distance and Planet Size Worksheet p. 5 Orbit Distance (from Kepler s 3rd Law graph) Star/ Period Orbit Distance Planet (T in years) (in AU) Planet Size (using formula) Z Planet Radius = 10 x Z Drop - Z (%) (in arth radii - arth = 1 Orbit Distance byalternative method: using formula Star/Planet Period T 2 Orbit Distance = T 2 (T in years) (in AU) 3 CUB ROOTS Number Cube Root Number Cube Root

6 p Keplers s 3rd Law Graph Jupiter Asteroid Belt Mars Venus arth Mercury Orbital Radius (AU) [Semi-major axis] 10 Saturn Pluto Neptune Uranus Orbital Period (years)

7 p. 7 Linear axes Pluto Why a logarithmic scale is needed: Mercury, Venus, arth, and Mars are all squished together. Neptune Uranus Jupiter Saturn

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