Jun 24, 2008

Why HARPS revolutionary new exoplanets evidence didn't make it through the media ?

Extrasolar planet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "On June 16, Michel Mayor announced a confirmed planetary system with three super-Earths orbiting this K-type star. Their masses are between 4 to 9 Earth masses and with periods between 4 to 20 days. It is speculated that this may be the first multi-planetary system without any known gas giants. All three terrestrial planets were discovered by the HARPS spectrograph in La Silla, Chile.[51] These three worlds were amongst the first seven confirmed of a panel of 45 candidate planets detected by the HARPS spectrograph on May 28, 2008. The discoveries represented a significant increase in the numbers of known super-earths. Based on this, astronomers now suggest that such low-mass planets may outnumber the Jupiter-like planets by 3 to 1.[52] While more data are needed to confirm the remaining candidates, some news media picked up the story."

Summary : Planets are galore, a third of them are super-Earths, how on Earth did such a tremendous piece of news escape the attention of the media ?

My tentative explanation :

1) Unlike their US NASA counterparts who introduce ET every time they spot a tiny comet, Europeans are just hopeless at communication
2) Media people just don't grasp it. After all, they missed the cultural revolution in China and the discovery of America! What else should we expect ?
3) The public is not interested. I know what you think: what should I expect ?

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