The Copernican Revolution spawned the notion that the stars might be other suns and that planetary worlds might orbit such suns. When the first giant planet around a sunlike star was found in 1995, however, it curiously lay at a distance from its central star which is only 1% the radius of Jupiter's orbit about the Sun. Later discoveries revealed other surprises: the frequency of planets depends strongly on the abundance of heavy elements such as iron in the star; planets in systems with multiple members often have orbital periods that bear an integer relationship to one another; the orbits of extrasolar planets are much more elongated than the nearly circular orbits of the planets in our own solar system; although extrasolar planets have a wide distribution of masses, none exceeds 10 Jupiter masses. For these pioneering, puzzling results, Marcy and Mayor are awarded the 2005 Shaw Prize in Astronomy.


Astronomy Selection Committee
The Shaw Prize

3 June 2005, Hong Kong