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Astronomers use new technique to discover small exoplanet
Posted: Fri, Oct 25, 2002, 8:59 AM ET (1259 GMT)
Astronomers announced this week that they have used a new technique to find the smallest extrasolar planet discovered to date. The astronomers, from the University of Rochester, matched clumps of dust observed around the star Epsilon Eridani to computer models of what that dust would look like if a planet was orbiting the star. They concluded that Epsilon Eridani has a planet one-tenth the mass of Jupiter orbiting the planet at an average distance of about 40 astronomical units (6 billion kilometers), completing one orbit every 280 years. This planet is the smallest discovered to date; it could not have been detected using the radial velocity technique because of its small mass and distant orbit. Astronomers had previously discovered another planet only slightly smaller than Jupiter in a closer eccentric orbit.
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