Extrasolar Planet (credit: ESO)

Narrowing Down the Hunt for Giant Exoplanets

by DAN MAJAESS on FEBRUARY 19, 2013

Despite advances in exoplanet research over the past decade much remains unknown. For example, how do the detection rates of giant planets vary as a function of the host star’s metal content? Are giant planets more frequent around massive stars? Do giant planets form under different mechanisms depending on the star’s metal content?

To that end a team of astronomers led by Annelies Mortier and Nuno C. Santos explored what mathematical function characterizes the detection rate across a distribution of stars (i.e., from metal-rich to metal-poor objects). ”Finding the exact functional form of the metallicity-planet detection frequency will foster our understanding of both planet formation and the number of planets roaming the galaxy,” Santos told Universe Today.

Giant planets are most often found around metal-rich stars, and a figure from the team’s study (shown below) reaffirms that ~25% of stars featuring twice the Sun’s metal content host a giant planet, while the probability falls to ~5% for stars with a metal content analogous to the Sun.

Read more: Narrowing Down the Hunt for Giant Exoplanets — Universe Today.

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