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Statistical technology used to detect new planets

This article was published in many publications / newspapers over the last few days, see e.g. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/12/06/many-earths-out-there-nea....

What's very interesting is that planet detection is based entirely on statistical technology: the planets can't be seen no matter how powerful your telescope is. Instead, astronomers assume the existence of a planet in a solar system based on semi-periodic variations in the amount of light detected from the parent star, after excluding eclipses by other stars (false positives). It is entirely a matter of having great statistical techniques to determine if a specific case is a planet or something else.

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