First ever discovery of an alien planet with the help of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Artist depiction of Kepler-76b revolving around its star (Credit: Dood Evan/CfA)
Artist depiction of Kepler-76b revolving around its star (Credit: Dood Evan/CfA)

Main Point:

Scientists have found, for the first time, an alien planet, dubbed as “Einstein’s planet”, with the help of the Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Published in:

The Astrophysical Journal

Study Further:

“Einstein’s planet” is officially called as Kepler-76b and is the first planet found by this method. It is the latest of the 800 planets located beyond our Solar System.

This planet is 25% larger than Jupiter and is two times of its weight; thereby scientists put it in the class known as “hot Jupiters”. It revolves around its star in 1.5 days. This planet has a temperature of about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit. This star is located about 2,000 light years away from us in the constellation Cygnus.

Researchers used the “beaming” effect predicted by Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. This special effect can be found when the star brightens up or down as the planet causes it to move towards or away from Earth.

“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.

Moreover, the revolving planet cause the star to stretch slightly into a football shape causing it to brighten up on its wider face showing more surface area. Additionally, the planet also reflected the small amount of starlight.

“We are looking for very subtle effects,” said team member David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “We needed high quality measurements of stellar brightnesses, accurate to a few parts per million.”

According to the scientists, this new Einstein-based method has advantage of not requiring high-precision measurements of the star’s velocity and is best for huge planets but not for Earth-sized planets.


Center for Astrophysics via Space via Fox News


Simchon Faigler, Lev Tal-Or, Tsevi Mazeh, Dave W. Latham, & Lars A. Buchhave (2013). BEER analysis of Kepler and CoRoT light curves: I. Discovery of
Kepler-76b: A hot Jupiter with evidence for superrotation The Astrophysical Journal arXiv: 1304.6841v3

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."

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