Cosmic newcomers

August 11, 2000

Tense moments at the International Astronomical Union general assembly in Manchester this week when three planet hunters revealed their hands after a round of cosmic poker.

First to the table was Geoff Marcy of San Francisco State University, who placed three previously unknown worlds on the table. Michel Mayor of Geneva Observatory, discoverer of the first planet outside our Solar System, responded with a blistering six. But it was newcomer William Cochran of the University of Texas who scooped the prize with a single card - a planet in a Jupiter-like orbit of one of Earth's closest stars.

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