Extrasolar Planets: November 2007

Speaker: Geoff Marcy (University of California, Berkeley)
Date/Time: Monday, December 3, 2007 11:00 AM PST

The measured masses and orbits of the 200 secure exoplanets within 200 parsecs reveal the processes of formation and subsequent dynamics. (One parsec is the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of 1 second of arc.) Several planets reveal information on their cores and interiors. Multiple-planet systems, especially those in resonances, inform us about migration, scattering, and capture. Planets from 5-14 Earth masses are now detectable, and several have been found. The Kepler Mission and a new 2.4-m "Automated Planet Finder" telescope at Lick Observatory portend the detection of rocky planets.

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[Source: NAI Newsletter]

In Science, astrobiologists from NAI's University of Hawai'i Team review the prospects for discovering smaller planets more like Earth, some of which may even have conditions suitable for life. Improved techniques and the ability to monitor fainter stars now enable astronomers to discover smaller planets, particularly planets orbiting much closer to their host star than the Earth is to the Sun. This review article is based on an NAI-supported session at the May, 2007 meeting of the American Astronomical Society. [Source: NAI Newsletter]