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Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana

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Chapter 4

Planet Bounty

Hot Jupiters and other Surprises

It had been a long time coming. There were the many decades of failed attempts and refuted claims, of denied research grants and scarce telescope time, and of painstaking refinements to the instruments and software. Finally, in the fall of 1995, astronomers announced definitive evidence of the first planet orbiting a normal star other than the Sun. It was an unusual beast in an unexpected location—a gas giant a hundred times closer to its star than Jupiter is to the Sun—raising serious doubts about its nature and fueling a sharp debate about its very existence. Within a year, there were six more, all found with the Doppler technique, by measuring subtle velocity shifts in the parent star’s ...

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