MAUNA KEA, Hawaii (June 1st, 1998) Two teams of astronomers this week reported that one of the sun’s nearest neighbors—a star just 15 light-years from Earth—possesses a planet 1.6 times as massive as Jupiter. As with other planets recently discovered, this object was not imaged, but betrayed its presence through its gravitational tug on its parent star. This story is reported in the June 27 issue of “Science News.”
A leader of one of the teams, Geoffrey W. Marcy of San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley, reported the finding on June 22 at a symposium of the International Astronomical Union in Victoria, British Columbia. Marcy and his colleagues used telescopes at Lick Observatory and the Keck I telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea to detect a telltale wobble in the motion of the nearby star Gliese 876.
Just 2 hours after his presentation, a colleague presented him with an e-mail from a team led by Xavier Delfosse of Geneva and Grenoble observatories. The message said that the team had confirmed the finding. These astronomers used telescopes at the Haute-Provence Observatory in France and the European Southern Observatory in La Serena, Chile