The first week of work was a lot of research on the internet, trying to learn a little planetary terminology. While Brendan and Andrei began to work on the basis for the program to calculate the habitable zone around a star, I focused on learning the different methods that astronomers use to detect exoplanets especially, the transit method and direct imaging of exoplanets. The transit method aka photometry has discovered the most planets as of this point, 2703. While direct imaging is a newer way and much harder to use has only discovered 44 planets. The reason direct imaging is difficult is because astronomers are trying to look at the light that a planet emits which is far dimmer than the host star, making looking for the planet difficult. It requires specific and advanced technology in order to try and block out the star’s light. The transit method is much simpler because it measures the minute dimming of a star as an orbiting planet passes between it and the Earth, kind of like a solar eclipse.
The week was brought to an end by the weekly friday meeting where we discuss some of the recent discoveries and after we go over the science news everyone has an opportunity to give a short presentation on a article they found interesting. After the meetings everyone goes back to what they were doing.