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No True Jupiters Detected

So far, we have not detected any true Jupiters, planets the size of Jupiter orbiting with periods of 10 or 20 years. This does not mean that such systems do not exit. It does not mean that the configuration of our solar system is unique, with the terrestrial planets huddled in close to the parent star, and the giant planets patrolling the outskirts, warding off incoming intruders such as asteroids or comets that might be instruments of mass extinction. No, such a conclusion is premature, because we have so far barely achieved the Doppler precision that is needed to detect a true Jupiter, and with few exceptions the observations do not yet cover long enough time spans. Both these shortcomings are being addressed. New and better instruments and techniques are being developed, and if the telescope time allocation committees continue to be wise, we will gradually accumulate enough additional data with sufficient time coverage to detect true Jupiters.

The fraction of solar-type stars with discovered planets is still rather low, just a few percent at most. But, this could prove to be just the tip of the iceberg. The Doppler technique is picking up the easiest planets first, the ones that are the most massive and/or have the shortest orbital periods. As the Doppler precision improves and the time coverage grows longer, I am confident that we will find more planets, ones with smaller masses and wider orbits.

Contributed by: Dr. David Latham

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No True Jupiters Detected

Jupiters not Earths
Empty Space in our Solar System
Deciphering General Characteristics
Seeking Multiple Planetary Systems
A Rich Variety of Environments
Other Discovery Techniques


David Latham

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