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Remember when finding a planet outside the solar system was an incredible, amazing discovery? Now they seem to be all over the place – but finding one is still cool.

Dartmouth Prof. Elisabeth Newton was part of a team that found one with the weird name “DS Tuc Ab”, as reported by the college news team (read it here).

“What we had was evidence that every eight days, DS Tuc Ab’s star briefly dimmed in a way that looked like it could be caused by a planet crossing in front of it,” says Newton. Next, the team had to narrow down the cause for that variation in brightness. “There are a number of false positive scenarios we had to rule out,” Newton says. 

For example, the dimming could have been caused by the movement of binary stars rather than a planet. Also, telescopes create instrumental “noise” that could distort the measurement of brightness. “It took a lot of data to arrive at our conclusion that there wasn’t another star in the background,” says Newton.

By the way, that headline is a vaue reference to Keats’ “First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” – my daily attempt to seem artsy.

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