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Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana

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Chapter 3

A Wobbly Start

False Starts and Death Star Planets

It is one thing to infer that planetary systems must be ubiquitous in the Galaxy from the presence of dusty disks around most newborn stars, but quite another to find the planets themselves. Just because the raw material for planet making is common does not have to mean the final products are as well. In fact, the hunt for extra-solar planets started long before astronomers had direct evidence of protoplanetary disks. Naturally the targets of these searches were the Sun’s nearest neighbors. The preferred method: looking for periodic wobbles as these stars travel across the sky, by recording their positions carefully over many years. The wobbly behavior would indicate the gravitational ...

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