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August 10th, 2013


One prediction regarding exoplanets that did hold true was the Moore’s-Law like progression toward the detection of planets of ever-lower mass. More than seven years ago, not long after the discovery of Gliese 876 d, the plot of Msin(i) vs. year of discovery looked like this:


With a logarithmic scale for the y-axis, the lower envelope of masses adhered nicely to a straight line progression, pointing toward the discovery of the first Earth-mass exoplanet sometime shortly after 2010. The honors went, rather fittingly, last year, to Alpha Cen B b. Here’s an update to the above plot. Planets discovered via Doppler velocity only are indicated in gray, transiting planets are shown in red…


The data for the plot were parsed out of the very useful exoplanets.csv file published at exoplanets.org.

And wait, what’s going on with that point in 1993? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollux_b.

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  1. greg
    August 10th, 2013 at 16:55 | #1

    From Xavier Bonfils:

    And actually, other exoplanets may have been _seen_ even earlier
    (e.g., http://arxiv.org/abs/0903.1101).
    Who knows if the timeline will not continue to grow… toward the past !

  2. andy
    August 11th, 2013 at 00:34 | #2

    And if you add the planets discovered by timing to the plot, the transit method has apparently finally caught up with the early 90s: PSR B1257+12A, meet Kepler-37b.

  3. August 13th, 2013 at 05:25 | #3

    That’s some very loud pointing away from those little pink fellows at the bottom right. They don’t seem to be in your linked csv.

    Or am I missing something obvious?

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