A Different Class of Planets

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Science  28 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6178, pp. 1440-1441
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251123

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Everywhere we look, it seems, we find exoplanets—planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. It is now estimated that, on average, there is at least one planet for every solar-type star (1). The vast majority (>98%) of known exoplanets have been found not through direct imaging, but by careful observation of how the host star is influenced by the presence of a planet; whether by induced motion from gravity or a periodic occultation of the stellar light. These indirect methods are heavily biased toward finding planets near their star, as those are the planets that influence the star the most. On page 1490 of this issue, Dent et al. (2) present results that implicate a planet far out from its star, through a technique that links the location of CO gas in the disk around a young star to the influence of an unseen planet.