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Nature. 2005 Jan 20;433(7023):261-8.

A theoretical look at the direct detection of giant planets outside the Solar System.

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  • 1Department of Astronomy, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.


Astronomy is at times a science of unexpected discovery. When it is, and if we are lucky, new intellectual territories emerge to challenge our views of the cosmos. The recent indirect detections using high-precision Doppler spectroscopy of more than 100 giant planets orbiting more than 100 nearby stars is an example of such rare serendipity. What has been learned has shaken out preconceptions, for none of the planetary systems discovered so far is like our own. The key to unlocking a planet's chemical, structural, and evolutionary secrets, however, is the direct detection of the planet's light. Because there have been as yet no confirmed detections, a theoretical analysis of such a planet's atmosphere is necessary for guiding our search.

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