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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

Where to start?

3 Feb 2011, 19:17 UTC
Where to start?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

At 5pm PST yesterday afternoon, a series of papers from the Kepler team were released on astro-ph. These include the Borucki et al. overview of the full data set from the first four months of observation, as well as articles that delve more deeply into the results. It’s hard to know quite where to begin. In a field that’s seen more than its share of hype and hyperbole, these papers and the accompanying data represent a watershed. The most interesting facets of the galactic planetary census can now be downloaded onto your hard drive — either in the form of raw light curves or as a ready-mixed compilation of over a thousand planets. I guess it’s time to stay up late…
Earlier this year, while putting together my slides for a UC Berkeley astronomy colloquium, I got the list of asteroid discovery dates from the Minor Planet Center. Back in 1801, the discovery of Ceres was every bit as big a deal as the discovery of the first extrasolar planets, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the progression of the asteroid discoveries with that of the extrasolar planets.

The first four asteroids, 1 Ceres, 2 Pallas, 3 ...

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