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Systemic - Characterizing Extrasolar Planetary Systems

The Mass-Period Diagram

8 Feb 2011, 06:27 UTC
The Mass-Period Diagram
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The extrasolar planets constitute a fast-moving field. I was looking at the slides from a talk that I gave in early 2005, in which I showed the then-current, now hopelessly outdated, mass-period diagram for the known extrasolar planets:

At that time, the name “Gliese” had barely edged into the public consciousness, as a Google trends and news reference diagram illustrates:

The discovery of Gliese 436b occurred in the summer of 2004, and was the first Neptune-mass extrasolar planet found. The following summer saw the announcement of the first unambiguous “super-Earth”, Gliese 876d, which generated a blip in search volume in addition to news volume. The discovery of Gliese 876d might have been a bigger story, had it not shared a news cycle with Michael Jackson:

In early 2005, there was essentially no hint of the enormous population of sub-Neptune/super-Earths lying just below the threshold of detectability. Population synthesis models for extrasolar planets were doing an excellent job of reproducing the distribution of hot Jupiters, the period “desert”, and the population of eccentric giants, but at that time, the smart-money expectation was that the pickings would be rather slim in the hot sub-Neptune regime. (It was also believed that the detection ...

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