Space. It’s quite fascinating, the many unsolved mysteries of our universe just waiting to be discovered, just out of our grasp, but everyday we strive closer and closer to that satisfying, yet never ending answer that we seek. However, there are some things we know about our universe, such as where we live and what we live in. We live inside of a solar system, but one that is vastly different than any other. Christopher Intagliata, an author for Scientific American’s 60 Second Science, wrote a very intriguing podcast on our solar system and why it is so vastly different from many others. He didn’t do this alone though. With the help of Lauren Weiss, an astrophysicist at the University of Montreal, he interviewed her and got even more insight on the subject. For out Baboon Mass Media class, we had to choose a podcast from 60 Second Science and add pictures and video to it in order to make it more engaging than before. Through hard work and dedication our class strove to the finish line completing our task. Here, is mine.
Also, here is the transcript used in the podcast.
The more astronomers study the heavens, the more they realize: our solar system is weird.
“There are a few things that make the solar system kind of strange.” Lauren Weiss, an astrophysicist at the University of Montreal. “One of which is we have a giant planet. Only about 10 percent of sunlike stars have a giant planet. And there are probably even fewer that have two giant planets.”
In addition to giant Jupiter and lesser giant Saturn, we have tiny Mercury—just a bit bigger than Earth’s moon.
So if we’re weird, what does a typical solar system look like? Weiss and her team trained their telescopes on 355 star systems known to host a handful of small exoplanets. And they found that most of the planets within individual star systems tended to be similar in size.
“So if I’m a planet, and I’m, say, two times the size of Earth, my neighbor, the next planet over, is also likely to be two times the size of Earth, give or take a little bit.”
And they were strung out at similar distances from each other too…like peas in a pod, she says. Compared to that orderly array, our system looks more like, “Uh let’s see, if I stick with food…I don’t know…like a whole Thanksgiving dinner or something?”
The results are in The Astronomical Journal. [Lauren M. Weiss et al., The California-Kepler Survey. V. Peas in a Pod: Planets in a Kepler Multi-planet System Are Similar in Size and Regularly Spaced]
As for hunting for habitable worlds: “If we’re trying to find an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone”—not too close to the star but not too far away either—“and we find an Earth-sized planet closer in, it might be worthwhile to continue searching for planets around that star.”
Because there might just be a few more peas in the pod.