big planets, small planets, Earth-like planets

In a low-research day, Tom Barclay (Ames) gave a very nice talk about exoplanets. He made many interesting and novel points. The first was that big planets are still very interesting, because their large impact on the system means that many things can be measured precisely. In particular, he showed examples where you can measure the Doppler beaming of the stellar light resulting from the reflex velocity of the star induced by the planet! Another point was that it is possible to find very tiny planets; he showed some of the smallest planets discovered with Kepler; several are much smaller than Earth. He is personally responsible for the smallest ever. Another point was that there are a few planets now that are debatably and reasonably "habitable". The striking thing is that there aren't yet Earth-sized planets that have been found in year-ish orbits. All known planets are either on shorter orbits or else larger. Time to fix that!

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