As Kepler-76b is 25 percent larger than Jupiter and twice as massive, it has a sizable tugging effect on the star. The beaming effect occurs when the orbiting exoplanet tugs its star in our direction - the motion toward us creates a focusing effect on the photons we receive from the star - the photons to "bunch up" in the direction of travel, concentrating their energy, brightening the star.
This is the first time the effect has been applied to exoplanetary detection.
"We are looking for very subtle effects," said team member David Latham of the CfA. "We needed high quality measurements of stellar brightnesses, accurate to a few parts per million,"
"This was only possible because of the exquisite data NASA is collecting with the Kepler spacecraft," added lead author Simchon Faigler of Tel Aviv University, Israel.
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Impressive as this detection may be, the team also wanted to test out two more very subtle of ways the massive exoplanet may be detected. While tugging on the star, the exoplanet elongates the star into a football shape due to the massive tidal forces exerted it. Therefore, the Kepler light-curve should also detect a slight brightening when it views the star from the side (as the "side" will have a larger surface area to radiate light than the "end"). Also, they wanted to see if they could detect the reflected light from the planet's atmosphere too - another very faint, but measurable effect. They succeeded on all counts.