Asteroid (114725) Gordonwalker

Discovered 2003 Apr. 6 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station of Lowell Observatory.

Gordon A. H. Walker (b. 1936), profesor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, was a member of the first group to report on the detection of extrasolar planets.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the introduction of solid-state, signal-generating detectors and absorption cells to impose wavelength fiducials directly on the starlight, the errors in stellar radial velocity (RV) measurements were reduced to the point where Doppler searches for planets became feasible. In 1980 Walker and Bruce Campbell began to use a hydrogen fluoride gas cell with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope coudé spectrograph and, for 12 years, monitored RVs of some 29 solar-type stars. Since extra-solar planets were expected to resemble Jupiter in both mass and orbit, they were awarded only three or four two-night observing runs each year. In 1988 they highlighted a potential planetary companion to Gamma Cephei (Spectral Type K1 IV), in 1993 one to Beta Geminorum (K0 III), and another to Epsilon Eridani (K2 V) in 1992. The putative planets all resembled Jovian systems with periods and masses of 2.5 yr and 1.4 Jupiter masses, 1.6 yr and 2.6 Mj, and 6.9 yr and 0.9 Mj, respectively. All three were subsequently confirmed from more extensive data by the Texas group led by Cochran and Hatzes who derived the currently accepted orbital elements. None of the systems is simple and some still question Epsilon Eridani B.

Reference: MPC 79912

2003 GW36
Disc. Date: 
Disc. Place: 
Anderson Mesa