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Census

January 17th, 2015

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I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a review article covering extrasolar planets that will be posted to arXiv in a few days. The list of to-do’s involves updating the figures, including the one shown just below, which charts \(M\sin i\)‘s of the RV-sourced planets in dark gray and simple radius-derived mass estimates of the transit-sourced planets in red. The steady Moore’s Law-like progression toward ever-lower masses has definitively reached Earth-mass (not to be confused with Earth-like) planets. The process took up only two decades, and was among the more impressive scientific advances of the recent past.

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Here’s an elaboration of the above figure that doesn’t make it into the article, but is interesting nonetheless. On the y-axis is \(K/rms\), which is reasonably well correlated with the signal strength of Doppler velocity discoveries. One can certainly detect planets with confidence at low \(K/rms\), but it requires a large number of independent Doppler velocity measurements. The color corresponds to “astrobiological interest” — surely naive, and probably misplaced, but nonetheless quantifiable by my planet valuation formula.

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