This is Science Today. Direct evidence that distant
planets do indeed exist was recently uncovered when
one was witnessed actually passing in front of its
star. Geoff Marcy is one of the astronomers from the
University of California, Berkeley who made the discovery.
Marcy: This is an event in nature that we've
always expected would happen and to have it actually
occur was sort of stunning. When you expect something
long enough and it doesn't happen, you begin to think
it'll never happen and we certainly were beginning
to think, well maybe this lucky transit of a planet
just won't occur. But then boom! It happened out of
the clear blue and so we were quite excited.
Another discovery is that the extrasolar planets orbit
in ellipses, rather than the circular motion of the
planets in our solar system.
Marcy: We have to wonder whether or not indeed
our solar system is unusual compared to solar systems
in general. We had always thought that our solar system
was a run-of-the-mill, garden-variety planetary system,
but maybe in fact it's some sort of cosmic freak and
that our solar system is very, very special.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.