This Day in History
January 17, 1996
Computer Is Used in the Discovery of New Planets
Paul Butler and Geoffrey Marcy announced to the American Astronomical Society that they had discovered two new planets using an unconventional computer technique to analyze the movement of stars. Butler and Marcy let computers analyze spectrographic images of stars for eight years, looking for shifts in the light that would imply it is being pulled by the gravity of a planet. The first discovery, a planet orbiting the star 47 Ursae Majoris, was announced in December 1995 and, since then, this team found 12 planets outside of our solar system.