The Top 12 of 2012

3. Kepler Measures an Increasing Frequency of Small Planets

Why it is important:This is the first detailed statistical study of the Kepler sample of exoplanet candidates, a sample which is unique for its sensitivity to both small planets and long periods. If you want to constrain the fraction of stars which host planets (see: Drake equation), this is where you start.

This paper uses a sample of planet candidates detected by the Kepler mission to show that the occurrence of planets around the brightest, main-sequence stars increases sharply (from blue to red) for the smallest planets (y axis) and for planets with long orbital periods (x axis). Read more in this astrobite! (Figure 4 of Howard et al.) 

Next: (#2) Let There be Dark? Constraining Dark Energy at high redshifts

Previous: (#4) Who’s the BOSS? New Measurements of the Cosmological Distance Ladder

About Betsy Mills

I am a 22nd-grader at UCLA, working with Mark Morris and spending the year at the MPIA in Heidelberg finishing my thesis. I like molecules in space, radio telescopes, the extreme center of our galaxy, getting to look at things no-one else has ever seen before, solving puzzles, and finding creative ways to survive graduate school


  1. Hi Betsy:

    Just a note– it looks like the arXiv link that you have on the first page of this article does not link to the title you provide.

    The link looks like it goes here:

    “How supernova feedback turns dark matter cusps into cores”

    instead of here:

    “Keck Spectroscopy of Faint 3<z<8 Lyman Break Galaxies:- Evidence for a Declining Fraction of Emission Line Sources In the Redshift Range 6<z<8"


    • Ah, actually the links are just switched–


      • Thanks Dave! The links are now fixed.

  2. Fascinating articles! But counting citations seriously distorts what astronomy is about. Because most young astronomers today work in observational cosmology, 10/12 papers are on that topic, the most glamorous frontier. But 10/12 of the most significant new papers of 2012 (selected some other way) paint a certainly much broader canvas, and reflect the amazing scope of astronomical research!
    Only the search for new planets (another glamour topic) and new calculations of the evolution of rotating stars in the HR diagram (a classic issue in stellar astronomy) penetrated the top twelve. So much more was missing!
    Nonetheless, an interesting citation poll.

    • Yes, I had the mass-to-light ratio section entirely backward; this is now corrected (and consistent with the linked astrobite). Thank you!!


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