Can We Measure an Exoplanet’s Orbital Decay?

Question:  Is it possible for a planet of an established solar system orbiting a star to be in a decaying orbit and if so how do astronomers confirm this as the star and its solar system can be vast numbers of light years away?  – David

Answer:  Yes, it is possible to see an exoplanet’s orbit decaying, but this would require measurements of its orbit over a period long enough to measure the decay, or change, in its orbital parameters (i.e. the orbital period).  Also, this would be a measurement referenced to the state of this planet’s orbit when the light we receive was emitted by the planet, which might be many light years away.

Jeff Mangum

This entry was posted in Exoplanets and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>