Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Radial-Velocity Planets

  • David W. LathamEmail author
  • Nader Haghighipour
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_1839


Radial-velocity planets are those detected indirectly by observing the orbital motion of their host stars in response to the gravitational pull of the planets. The stellar motion is measured from the  Doppler effect on the stellar spectral lines.


In a system consisting of a star and a planet, because of the gravitational force of the planet on the star, the planet and its host star orbit their common center of mass. This causes variations in the distance of the star to the observer creating what is known as radial velocity. Measuring the velocities of stars along the line of sight dates back to more than a century ago. However, it has been only in the past couple of decades that technological advancements reached to the point where the precision was good enough to detect the very small accelerations of a host star induced by orbiting planets. The first serious survey using radial velocity to search for planets around other stars was pursued by a team of Canadian...


Doppler shift Radial velocity Spectroscopic orbit 
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References and Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstrophysicsCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Institute for AstronomyUniversity of Hawaii-ManoaHonolulu, HawaiiUSA