solar systems in spaaaaace

God I love it when people discover more solar systems and planets. A new technique that permits detection of solar systems that include large outer planets, as opposed to large planets close to their suns, is proving fruitful. The solar system that was discovered includes large outer planets and may have small rocky planets, akin to our own. The sun is smaller than ours, and red (Darkover?).

One of the best things about this discovery is the role of amateurs.

Among those who provided crucial data and appeared as lead authors of the paper in Science were a pair of amateur astronomers from Auckland, New Zealand, Jennie McCormick and Grant Christie, both members of a group called the Microlensing Follow-Up Network, or MicroFUN. Ms. McCormick, who described herself as “an ordinary New Zealand mother,” said she had done her observing with a 10-inch Meade telescope from a shed in her back yard.

One of the other best things about this discovery (there are lots of best things about it) is that, since the technique itself can only work in a very specific set of circumstances, and it has already proven so fruitful (this solar system and a few other planets), we can infer that these kinds of solar systems — our kind of solar system — are abundant.