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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

A safe prediction

2 Jan 2011, 00:43 UTC
A safe prediction
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Predictions are always popular around the New Year. When will exoplanet.eu list 1000 entries on its main catalog? When will that first million-dollar planet turn up? What will the spot price of molybdenum be on Dec. 31, 2011?
Rather than risk the scruffy inconveniences of being wrong on such near-term prognostications, “but last year, you said…”, I thought it’d be better to issue a comfortably long-term prediction: For how much longer will Earth-based observers be able to observe transits for HD 80606b?
HD 80606b has been a focus lately. We’re scrambling to get our (intriguing) new results written up and submitted before the proprietary period runs out on our Spitzer data from last year’s early January eclipse observations. As long-term readers know, HD 80606b is remarkable not only for its eccentricity and its transit, but also for the fortuitous orientation of its orbit. Several hours after the planet comes out of secondary eclipse, it passes through periastron, and shortly thereafter, its pseudo-synchronous rotation rapidly turns its unheated hemisphere toward Earth. Six days later, the planet passes through primary transit, and then it begins the long climb up to the cold-storage of apoastron.
At the 100,000 light-year scale of the galactic ...

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