Carnegie & California Planet Search

The Carnegie & California Planet Search is an on-going and hugely successful observational program to detect exoplanets by means of a high-precision radial velocity method. Originally known as the San Francisco State University Planet Search, it was initiated in 1987 by Geoffrey Marcy and R. Paul Butler using detection equipment they had constructed in the chemistry laboratories of San Francisco State University (SFSU) and attached to the 3-meter telescope at Lick Observatory. Over an eight-year period, Marcy and Butler collected data on 100 nearby Sun-like stars. Following computer analyses of these data, they were able to announce that six of the observed stars were accompanied by planets. The 3-meter Lick telescope continues to be used by the Carnegie & California group to monitor the 300 brightest Sun-like stars in the northern hemisphere, while since July 1996 an additional 430 stars have been monitored using the Keck I telescope at the Keck Observatory, equipped with the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer. In October 1997, the group extended its work, in the form of the Anglo-Australian Planet Search, to include the 150 brightest Sun-like stars in the southern hemisphere. Surveying with a current precision of 3 meters per second will enable the detection of systems similar to the solar system with Jupiter-mass and Saturn-mass worlds.