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Carl Sagan Institute

Exoplanet detectives create catalog of ‘light-fingerprints’ of our own Solar System

31 Jul 2018, 13:01 UTC
Exoplanet detectives create catalog of ‘light-fingerprints’ of our own Solar System J. Madden/NASA

Earthbound detectives rely on fingerprints to solve their cases; now astronomers can do the same, using “light-fingerprints” instead of skin grooves to uncover the mysteries of exoplanets.

Cornell researchers have created a reference catalog using calibrated spectra and geometric albedos (the light reflected by a surface) of 19 of the most diverse bodies in our solar system: all eight planets, from rocky to gaseous; nine moons, from frozen to lava spewing; and two dwarf planets, one in the asteroid belt (Ceres) and one in the Kuiper belt (Pluto).

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