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Planet hunters from San Francisco State University discover two new celestial bodies



Denize Springer
SFSU Office of Public Affairs & Publications
(415) 405-3803
(415) 338-1665

Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications


SAN FRANCISCO, August 30, 2004 -- Members of the team of "planet hunters" that distinguished San Francisco State University in 1996 with the discovery of two Jupiter-sized planets outside our solar system are about to announce their discovery of two even smaller extra-solar planets. These planets are the smallest ever detected.

Comparable to the planet Neptune in mass, the two planets are known as "Neptune-Class." Astronomers are thrilled by this discovery of these planets as it means that that in the future they may be able to detect even smaller, Earth-sized extra-solar planets. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth.

The co-discovery of the two planets was made by Debra Fischer, San Francisco State Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Paul Butler, SFSU alum (BA, BS, MS) and Staff Scientist with the Carnegie Institute in Washington; and Geoffrey Marcy, Adjunct Professor of Physics at SFSU and professor of Astronomy at University of California at Berkeley. The team was funded jointly by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Fischer will be available for interviews by phone or on the SFSU campus after 10 a.m., Tuesday, August 31. Butler and Marcy are in Arlington, Virginia where a press conference at the National Science Foundation will be held.


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Last modified September 3, 2004, by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications