Take the 2-minute tour ×
Astronomy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for astronomers and astrophysicists. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it ever possible for starlight to be distorted in a noticeable way from something as small as a planet?

I'm guessing that the chances of this working are better on a dense terrestrial planet than a gas giant.

How do you calculate this?

Edit: I was unclear, sorry. I'm specifically thinking about lensing that would distort the shape of a star, not just move its position.

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

You could google "Maccone focal" for the most ardent proponent of this project (and I love it too, the most furthest meaningful mission possible within a life time, and what a view!) But others may have variations of his idea. One should be a bit wary about enthusiasts.

Here's a link to some article where Maccone is cited to explain that planets need 6-17 greater distance to become gravitaional lenses than the Sun needs. Neptune surprisingly happens to be next best after Jupiter: http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=15290

Paper (might not be available for free): Maccone, “A New Belt Beyond Kuiper’s: A Belt of Focal Spheres Between 550 and 17,000 AU for SETI and Science.”

Here are slides from one of his presentations where he explains his calculations more generally, but I think only for the Sun: http://www.spaceroutes.com/astrocon/AstroconVTalks/Maccone-AstroconV.pdf

And then there's micro gravity lenses! A very different thing in terms of our observation. I now think my answer above misunderstood what you were looking for.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.