No one really knows how it all began. No one was there when it happened!!!
But after all... It happened, about 13 billion years Ago! Species evolved , civilizations grew and fell. And as the quest for understanding furthered upon its noble cause the sun which went around the earth halted in its path and the earth began revolving around the sun. When the telescope came into being and we decided to look upon a celestial wanderer, one dot became five and at times four. This is something which changed the perspective. What seemed to be one single speck of light turns out to be one bright ball surrounded by four or at times three more dots of light. Such moments of bewilderment were often found in the days to come.
After stars and planets were studied and the solar system was understood, some stars were observed which seemed to be one and yet turned out to be two. And then there were some other surprises waiting for us, for stars were not the only kind of objects outside the solar system. It was the year 1995 CE, when we realized that those stars far away from us harboured planets as well. This raised the long-asked question of lonesome notes reverberating back to these new findings. “Are we alone?” So, all kinds of instruments, big and small, were sent up to the sky, to that extent they called the exosphere. And now we look up much clearer, closer and with greater care and perseverance. Transit of a planet causes a dip in brightness, and hence we built photometers. The bigger the planet the more will be the dip in brightness. And the periodicity of the transits would give them the time period of the planets. We realized that a star would wobble from the tug of its planets’ gravity and we used spectrographs to measure it. Christian Doppler named his findings and others called his principle doppler’s shift. And as per doppler’s shift any object moving towards the observer would appear ‘bluish’ since the wavelength of the light emitted from that body would be compressed and the increase in energy of that light would cause it to make a blue shift. Similarly, an object moving away would have its light’s wavelength rarefied and hence experience a red shift. When the star wobbles, the red shift and blue shift of the spectra of the stars tell us the star is not alone. And more the mass of the planet, the more tug it feels and more is it's wobble.
With these things in mind and a few other techniques up the sleeve, we have scanned the deep skies and found that there are probably more than 4000 planets out there. And many of them might be capable of harbouring life. Then after about 13.7 billion years later, after the first light, we as a terran species have undertaken this project with the same questions in mind but somewhat different approaches. We have simply compiled the data gathered by these ground and space telescopes and tried to understand the trends and patterns which they project.
We are a diverse team of 14 brought together by our common vision of venturing the cosmos, hunting exoplanets & their host stars along with exploring its habitability and potential for life, but before we conquer them, our motto is to set our eyes; before we land our feet …and persevere. So, we began with our literature study and came up with about 6 topics, to begin with. After a lot of discussion, We narrowed it down it to 2-3 topics. We split our team into 2. One on a mission to characterize exoplanets and the other set to study their hosts' stars by analyzing their spectra, we used Python and MATLAB for computational purposes. We had six weeks of late-night meetings, doodling our ideas on the whiteboard, digging up papers for our literature study, often modifing our topics based on our findings, and all kinds of geeky conversations. But that is not all, we have had lots of fun sessions where we played 20 questions, space bingo, space art and sci-fi quiz; each and every one of them was a delight awakening our inner science geek competing with the other teams. Space/Sci-fi themed Pictionary was an all-time favorite amongst our team that we often played to chill out.
SSERD had also organized some really nice training sessions mostly taken by Mr. Pavan and Nikhitha, as well as some fun technical talk sessions, the most memorable one would be the one with Zachary Burton!
The journey of team Exoverse has been a memorable one indeed, with each moment that has passed bringing us further and further close to not just finishing our project but in also building a good sense of team spirit with all those late night spent working. It taught us that no matter how hard something might seem, but when you have someone by your side you can always get it done be it how big. That’s exactly how we learned so many new skills under such a short time by building up on our trust and faith in each other and opening ourselfs to learning and smoothening every possible bump on the road and by the end of it? Indeed it was worthwhile in bringing a smile.