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Most Planetary Systems Have Exoplanets Similar To Jupiter

When planets are created within the swirling dust and gas about young stars, it seems like there is a specific spot where the majority of the huge gas giants like Jupiter congregate. Usually this location is centered about the orbit. Our very own planetary system also sees a similar position for Jupiter.

This particular sweet spot is located between 3-10 times the Earth’s distances from the Sun of our solar system. The distance between Sun and the Earth is 3-10 AU or astronomical units. On the other hand, Jupiter has a distance of 5.2 AU as compared to our Sun.

This conclusion has been drawn from an unforeseen analysis of nearly 300 stars. The images were captured by GPI or Gemini Planet Imagers technology. It is an infrared sensitive detector which is mounted upon 8-meter long telescope called Gemini South in Chile.

The GPIES or Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey is a major project searching directly for exoplanets. It does so by blocking the light of stars and taking photographs of the planets, instead of the traditional method of spotting telltale wobbles on the star. The latter method is called the method of radial velocity or transit technique. However, GPI cameras are sensitive towards the heat emitted by brown dwarfs. The brown dwarfs are bigger as compared to gas giant planetary bodies but not big enough to ignite the process of fusion to become stars.

This analysis of around the initial 300 of greater than 500 stars that were surveyed by the agency was published in Astronomical Journal on June 12. The study has been hailed as a milestone by Eugene Chiang, who teaches astronomy at UC Berkeley and is also a part of the theory group of the collaboration. Chiang feels that they have exemplary statistics about the frequency of planets occurrence, the distribution of their mass as well as their distance from their respective stars. The professor also termed it as the best comprehensive analysis to have been made in the field.

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