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The smallest exoplanet February 5, 2009

Posted by rationalskeptic in Cosmology.
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transit_cnes1 In 1995 astronomers found the first exoplanet ( a planet in another solar system) called 51 Pegasi b. Since then nearly 400 exoplanets have been found, and typically they are large and gaseous Jupiter-like planets. 

 

The method used most often to search for exoplanets is called the radial velocity method. This method favors finding those planets similar to Jupiter, because of the limitations of the method. The transit method was used in the discovery of this new planet, and surprisingly it turns out to be twice the diameter of earth (which is tiny compared to most discoveries, 100,000 km across is relatively common, and this new planet is approximately 25,000 km across.). This is very exciting news for the astronomy and cosmology communities, because the next find could be earth sized.

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