By Alan Bo
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Extra info for Crowded Universe
This transit detection technique had been soundly thrashed in the Appendix of a 1990 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on the basis that FRESIP would have to look at tens of thousands of stars in order to have a chance of finding any planets at all, because of the small chances that the orbital planes would be aligned at precisely the right angles to yield transits—and there just weren’t that many nearby stars. FIGURE 9. Planetary transits occur when a planet’s orbit is aligned in such a way that the planet passes in front of and behind its star when viewed from Earth.
Once they finished that marathon observing run and analyzed their data one more time, they realized that they had bagged a planet. But just to be sure, they waited two more months until September and took even more data on 51 Pegasi. Then Mayor and Queloz quickly wrote a short paper and submitted it to the journal Nature. While their 51 Pegasi discovery paper was still in the process of being scrutinized for publication, Mayor decided to break the press embargo imposed by Nature and announce their finding at the Florence meeting.
The route through which rocky planets such as Earth are built up from a large population of smaller bodies is a random one. FIGURE 4. George W. Wetherill [1925-2006], the pioneer of modern theoretical work on the formation of habitable planets. ] This lengthy process entails the banging together of progressively larger and larger solid bodies as they orbit their central star. It is thought to begin with tiny dust grains too small to be seen by the human eye. Wetherill had taken a shortcut and was studying the final phase of the collisional accumulation process, when a swarm of several hundred lunar-mass bodies are in orbit, having taken about 100,000 years to grow that large.
Crowded Universe by Alan Bo