Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

Contributed Papers

The Rise of the Vulcans

David Charbonneaua1

a1 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, MS-16, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA email:


In this introductory review, I summarize the path from the initial 1995 radial-velocity discovery of hot Jupiters to the current rich panoply of investigations that are afforded when such objects are observed to transit their parent stars. Forty transiting exoplanets are now known, and the time for that population to double has dropped below one year. Only for these objects do we have direct estimates of their masses and radii, and can we (at the current time) undertake direct studies of the chemistries and dynamics of their atmospheres. Informed by the successes of hot Jupiter studies, I outline a path for the spectroscopic study of certain habitable exoplanets that obviates the need for direct imaging.


† For an examination of an entirely different group of Vulcans that also made its first appearance in 1999, see the book by James Mann of the same title (Mann 2004).