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BALTIMORE – Astronomers met last week to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the first planet discovered around a normal star other than the Sun. Although more than 130 other such planets have been found since then, the field still feels like it is just getting started.
And the places they see are getting stranger every year.
Many recent breakthroughs have occurred in planet detection. The frontiers being crossed are towards planets with wider orbits and less mass. Along the way, though, strange objects may require retuning theories, and maybe even definitions.
"We are in fantastic times," said Michel Mayor of the Observatoire de Geneve. "In ten years, we have a lot of new data."
Mayor was one of the astronomers who detected the first extrasolar planet – that is, outside our solar system – in 1995 around the star 51 Pegasi. To commemorate this and other discoveries the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) organized its May 2005 Symposium, "A Decade of Extrasolar Planets Around Normal Stars."
Originally posted by Djarums
Yup, that's the one that CNN Headline News was showing in the background during their story. Amazing to look at. Overall perspective though I'd say that planet is HUGE!!! I mean compare the relative mass of Earth to the Sun and you'd get a boat and a sesame seed. This one is massive. It'll definitely take a heck of a lot sharper shot than that to view an earthsized planet won't it...
Either way, great stuff!
Originally posted by Rren
As I understand it all the planets we have found so far are very big and on very extraordinary orbits(its how we find them), IOW the planets we have discovered probably mean that those solar systems are unlikely for life. Imagine a planet 3 or 4x the size of Jupiter that swings from the outer solar system to the inner, even if it didn't directly smash into any terrestrial planets directly, the gravitational disturbances would likely make life unlikely. Its not just finding an 'Earth-like' planet around a 'Sun-like' star, but we need a realtively stable solar system, more or less configured like our own(relatively eliptical orbits for all planets), in a relatively 'quiet' part of the galaxy.