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Planet Swapping
Topic: New Planets
12/05/04
Could a passing star exchange planets with our own Sun? Computer simulations suggest that a glancing blow might contribute far outer planets following star disk collisions.

The Planet that Shouldn't Be
Topic: New Planets
11/11/04
Theories of planet formation have certain prerequisites: the solar system that hosts the planet should be of a certain age, temperature and size. For planet hunters, the outliers may present some of the most interesting candidates. One such Neptune-class planet seems to defy the rules.

Extrasolar Planets: A Matter of Metallicity
Topic: New Planets
10/11/04
The 130 extrasolar planets discovered so far are in solar systems very different from our own, in which life-bearing planets like Earth are unlikely to exist. But an obscure characteristic of these planets and their stars has led astronomers to predict that our galaxy is brimming with solar systems like ours.

Pinhole Camera to Image New Worlds
Topic: New Planets
09/30/04
A University of Colorado study has embarked on demonstrating that new planets can be found with the help of an orbiting starshade. The method has been compared to building a giant pinhole camera in space.

Coming Soon: "Good Jupiters"
Topic: New Planets
09/29/04
Most of the extrasolar planets discovered to date are gas giants like Jupiter, but their orbits are either much closer to their parent stars or are highly eccentric. Planet hunters are on the verge of confirming the discovery of Jupiter-size planets with Jupiter-like orbits.

First Visible Exoplanet?
Topic: New Planets
09/10/04
Faint, failed stars like brown dwarfs are borderline planets themselves, but the European Southern Observatory atop the Chilean mountains may have imaged what could be the first infrared view of an extrasolar planet.

Neptune-Class Worlds Found
Topic: New Planets
08/31/04
While striving to find ever smaller, more rocky worlds, planet hunters have moved from discovering not just Jupiter-class planets outside our solar system. Now astronomers have found two new Neptune-class planets on their road to pinpointing a new Earth-like system.

Finding Super-Earths
Topic: New Planets
08/26/04
Of the more than 120 extrasolar planets found so far, most are as large or larger than our own Jupiter. Finding rocky worlds like Earth is nearly at the limit of current technology, but the European Southern Observatory in Chile reports finding the smallest super-Earth yet.

Backyard Telescopes for New Planets
Topic: New Planets
08/24/04
Could a new world be discovered with a department store telescope having only a small 4-inch diameter lens? It was a little more than a decade ago that the world's most powerful telescopes could just begin to discover extrasolar planets, but with over 120 new worlds found, the technique seems primed to become general.

Sweeping for Unseen Worlds
Topic: New Planets
08/17/04
The problem of finding a world one cannot see is detective work for some of the most powerful ground-based telescopes. One challenge is to observe dust disks for signs of planets by their expected swept trails.

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