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Astrophys Space Sci. 1994;212:1-11.

The search for other planets: clues from the solar system.

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  • 1Institute for Astronomy, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.


Studies of element abundances and values of D/H in the atmospheres of the outer planets and Titan support a two-step model for the formation of these bodies. This model suggests that the dimensions of Uranus provide a good index for the sensitivity required to detect planets around other stars. The high proportion of N2 on the surfaces of Pluto and Triton indicates that this gas was the dominant reservoir of nitrogen in the early solar nebula. It should also be abundant on pristine comets. There is evidence that some of these comets may well have brought a large store of volatiles to the inner planets, while others were falling into the sun. In other systems, icy planetesimals falling into stars should reveal themselves through high values of D/H.

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