6/21/02 12:23:33 PM Pacific Daylight Time
This was published recently at Space.com. Nothing new until you read the
article. Unlike ALL other articles that concern exo-planets there's NO
mention of it's LOCATION...?
I've sent mail to both the writers at Space.com and ESA (European Space
Agency) asking for location and distance from Mother.
We'll just have to wait and see...
Here's the ESA url;
If that doesn't work try;
You'll see the article.
Another Jupiter Twin Found in Flood of Planet Discoveries
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
and Tariq Malik
posted: 02:15 pm ET, 19 June 2002
Jupiter-Like Planet Could Point to Another Earth
WASHINGTON, D.C. - European astronomers announced this week the discovery of
a Jupiter-like planet around another star, a finding that comes less than a
week after a similar announcement of a Jovian lookalike around another star
by a U.S.-led team.
The latest discovery is a gas giant world similar in mass to Jupiter in an
orbit at 3.7 astronomical units (AU). One AU is the distance from Earth to
the Sun. Jupiter orbits at 5.2 AU.
Though the discovery does not reveal whether any Earth-like planets might
also orbit the star, it leaves the door wide open.
"There is space for terrestrial planets in the inner regions," the Geneva
Observatory's Stephane Udry, one of the discoverers, said in an interview.
If such terrestrial (rocky) planets exist, the system would be more similar
to our solar system than any presently known. Most astronomers agree it will
be several years before technology allows the detection of Earth-sized
Last week, a planet-hunting team led by Geoffrey Marcy of the University of
California, Berkeley, announced the first extrasolar planet with a mass and
orbit similar to Jupiter. That planet's orbit was elongated and not
circular, like Jupiter's, however.
The European team has found a planet whose orbit is nearly circular. Such
orbits are seen as important for the creation of stable planetary systems.
The discovery was presented at a press conference here at the Carnegie
Institution during a four-day meeting titled "Scientific Frontiers in
Research on Extrasolar Planets."
The Geneva researchers also announced 11 other newfound planets, all large
and closer to their host stars than the Jovian tiwn. Some of these planets
were also found by Marcy's team and announced last week, so it is unclear at
the moment how many extrasolar planets, all totaled, have been found. The
count is above 100, however.
Combined, the discoveries are the culmination of years of data gathering and
they point the way to the next era of planet hunting in which astronomers
will search for worlds more like Earth.
"The first planets we detected were the ones with short periods, completing
an orbit in just a few days," said Didier Queloz, who is also on the Geneva
team. "They were the easiest to detect because they give the largest
Astronomers find most extrasolar planets indirectly by watching the stars
they circle. The planet's gravity causes its parent star to wobble, just
slightly, but enough to be measured from Earth.
"Now we can see long period planets, we can check for multiple planets in
systems already known to contain a single planet and check for Jupiter
analogues that may indicate solar systems like our own," Queloz said.
The Jupiter-like planet found by the European team orbits its host star in
about seven years, a few short of the nearly 12 it takes Jupiter to round
Improved ground instruments, astronomers say, could make earthbound
observations 100 times better, and one such tool -- the High Accuracy Radial
velocity Planetary Search (HARPS) spectrograph, will soon be installed onto
the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Scientists also hope to spot other planets using a transit-method, which
measures the change in a star's light output as a planet crosses between it
and observers on Earth.
Meanwhile, both NASA and the European Space Agency are looking toward space
as a better home base to fish for planets.
NASA has two missions planned over the next decade. Kepler, slated to launch
in 2007, will attempt to generate a census of Earth-like planets around
Sun-like stars, but it will only detect them -- no photographs will be
possible. Later, the Terrestrial Planet Finder is slated to make the first
images of Earth-like planets around other stars, assuming they exist.
Queloz serves on the scientific advisory group for the ESA's Darwin project,
a plan to send a flotilla of eight spacecraft, flying in formation, detect
and photograph Earth-like planets and search their atmospheres for signs of
life. The project is still in the planning stage and is expected to fly in
the middle of the next decade.
In addition to Darwin, the ESA plans to launch a pair of missions under the
agency's Cosmic Vision 2020 program to study stars and find more planets.
The spacecraft Eddington, set for a 2008 liftoff, will search for planets
and detect the equivalent of earthquakes on the surface of stars. In 2012,
ESA plans to launch Gaia to survey the nearest one billion stars for precise
data of their position and brightness, and search for extrasolar planets
using the wobble and transit-methods.
"They are essential," Queloz said of all three European efforts, adding that
putting a planet-seeking eye in space will be the only way to reach
Earth-like systems. "Eddington will detect ten or a hundred times more
planets than we can from the ground."
Particularly exciting, he added, is the Darwin mission, because looking for
evidence of life on other worlds is one of the pillars supporting
planet-hunting quests. Queloz is optimistic about Darwin's chances of
finding life, in one form or another, in the planets it locates.
"Why should Earth be a kind of strange system with life?" he asked, adding
that finding other intelligence in space may be rare - the chances might
even be just one civilization in a galaxy. "But for basic life, I'm sure it
has to be there."