Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Einstein's Planet" Discovered

There's nothing special about this planet, other than the claim that it was discovered using Einstein's Relativity concepts. However, there appears to be slight error in this news report:

The researchers capitalized on subtle effects predicted by Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity to find the planet. The first is called the "beaming" effect, and occurs when light from the parent star brightens as its planet tugs it a nudge closer to Earth, and dims as the planet pulls it away. Relativistic effects cause light particles, called photons, to pile up and become focused in the direction of the star's motion.

"This is the first time that this aspect of Einstein's theory of relativity has been used to discover a planet," research team member Tsevi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University in Israel said in a statement.

Additionally, gravitational tides from the orbiting planet caused its star to stretch slightly into a football shape, causing it to appear brighter when its wider side faces us, revealing more surface area. Finally, the planet itself reflects a small amount of starlight, which also contributed to its discovery.
Not to be nit-picky (well, I guess I am!), but this sounds like it is relevant to the GENERAL theory of Relativity, rather than just the Special theory of relativity. I guess I will have to wait for the paper to appear (unless the preprint are floating around already) to confirm this.



Aa said...

Well, it depends if the beaming effect is caused by the planet's motion, or its gravitational pull. Without reading the article, I strongly suspect it is indeed regular old doppler shifting from special relativity, due to the relative motion of the planet along the line of sight. This is what beaming usually refers to. The wording ("tugging", for instance) is a bit confusing though.

Heumpje said...


And it indeed a doppler effect...