a Long Year for a ‘Cold Saturn’

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The decades-long hunt for exoplanets – planets around other stars – has so far yielded more than 5,500 that are confirmed to be scattered across the Milky Way, which likely contains hundreds of billions. But the prevailing detection method turns up relatively few “long period” planets, those with years lasting 50 days or more. This method, seeking “shadows,” much more easily reveals planets orbiting their stars closely, with far shorter years. The search for shadows, called the transit method, captures the tiny dip in starlight as an orbiting planet crosses the face of its star.

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