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The Nobel-Winning Discovery of 51 Pegasi b

16 Oct 2019, 14:31 UTC
The Nobel-Winning Discovery of 51 Pegasi b
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Title: A Jupiter-mass companion to a solar-type starAuthors: Michel Mayor and Didier QuelozFirst Author Institution: Geneva ObservatoryJournal: Nature (closed access)Last week, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astrophysicists: James Peebles for his work on cosmology (see tomorrow’s Astrobite for more on this!) and Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for the discovery of the first known extrasolar planet around a Sun-like star. Today, we’ll be taking a trip back in time to the original 1995 paper that started the revolution of exoplanet research.So, what did Mayor and Queloz find, and how did they do it? Although there are many ways to find an exoplanet, this research used the radial velocity method. A star and a planet orbit each other, and although the star doesn’t move as much, the star still shows a noticeable wobble due to their gravitational tugs on each other. By observing this wobble, we can infer that there’s a planet around it, and get an idea of how big and how far away from the star that planet is. They looked at many stars in the sky, searching for exoplanets; particularly, they were looking for super-Jupiters, planets larger than the largest planet in our ...

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