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Epsilon Indi’s Jovian Exoplanet

28 Mar 2018, 12:54 UTC
Epsilon Indi’s Jovian Exoplanet ESO/Uranographia, J.E.Bode,1801

Before the discovery of the first exoplanets, astronomers thought they understood the architecture of planetary systems. Using our own solar system as a guide, it was expected that small rocky planets would orbit close in to their suns with orbital periods on the order of a few months to a few years with larger Jupiter-like planets found in more distant orbits beyond the “ice line” with orbital periods on the order of a decade and more. This view was upended in October 1995 with the discovery of 51 Pegasi b – a Jupiter-size exoplanet in a tight four-day orbit now characterized as a “hot Jupiter” (see “The Discovery of Extrasolar Planets”). In the two decades since this discovery, extrasolar giant planets have been found orbiting main sequence stars over a large range of distances making it apparent that the arrangement of planet types in our solar system is only one example along a continuum of possible planetary architectures (see “How Typical is Our Solar System?”).

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