RESOURCES: Tallying Distant Worlds

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Science  25 Jan 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5555, pp. 591
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5555.591a

Planets, planets everywhere—well, not quite, but in recent years astronomers have been discovering planets outside our solar system at the rate of almost one a month. For an overview of the search for extrasolar planets and the latest tally, visit PlanetQuest, a site sponsored by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The site's New Worlds Atlas profiles more than 50 extrasolar planets and the stars they accompany. For instance, a gas giant about 1.5 times the mass of Jupiter orbits 16 Cygni, a star about 70 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The site also provides background on the search for planets and on future NASA planet-hunting projects. Take a virtual tour of the Keck Interferometer atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, a pair of telescopes that boosts visibility by combining the light they each gather. Or check out interactive animations that zoom alongside the three giant planets orbiting Upsilon Andromedae and highlight the upcoming StarLight mission, in which two spacecraft flying in formation will hunt for the spoor of planets.

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