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How can we know anything about distant exoplanets?

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How can we know the size, composition, and atmospheric makeup of distant exoplanets? NASA explains the details in this Alien Atmospheres video. 

By observing periodic variations in the parent star’s brightness and color, astronomers can indirectly determine an exoplanet’s distance from its star, its size, and its mass. But to truly understand an exoplanet astronomers must study its atmosphere, and they do so by splitting apart the parent star’s light during a planetary transit.

Watch more astronomy videos, including Measuring the Universe and The Hubble Ultra Deep Field.

via Boing Boing.

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