2009-02-03

Becoming less enthused with Exoplanet discoveries

I am becoming less enthused with some of the latest Exoplanet "discoveries". Today's news ( http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090203-smallest-planet.html ) is that COROT has found a two earth mass planet around an Earth like star. While I do not doubt the existence of Exoplanets.. the ones being found seem to get odder and odder to the point where I have to wonder data error?, problem with technique? How many of these planets can be found via independent methods?

The kicker that has me "steaming" is that the orbit is 20 hours. Thats well inside the orbit of Mercury (I come up with an initial distance of around 2.5 million km or 1/20th the orbit of Mercury). The planet at that distance would definitely be inside of the relativistic gravity well.. so the orbit will have a much larger precession than Mercury's. I guess this could be a core of a gas giant that wobbled inside and lost its atmosphere.. but it just seems a little too odd.

Of course I am going by Space.com's statement that this is an Sun like star (which gave me 1.99 E+30 kg). A red or orange dwarf would have larger orbits. And I am going off of the press's predilection to announce a tentative discovery as absolute fact so maybe I should complain more about that :).
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