What began as a tantalizing rumor has just become an astonishing fact. Today a group of thirty-one scientists announced the discovery of a terrestrial exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri. The discovery of this planet, Proxima Centauri b, is a huge breakthrough not just for astronomers but for all of us. Here’s why.
Until just a few years ago, a plot of mass versus size of other worlds would have looked pretty sparse and uninformative. But thanks to the tireless efforts of exoplanet astronomers, we now know fairly precise masses and radii for hundreds of distant worlds.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/09/26 05:59 CDT
The Planetary Society is launching a new collaboration with Yale exoplanet hunter Debra Fischer and her team, the Exoplanets Laser project. We will support the purchase of an advanced, ultra stable laser to be used in a complex system they are designing to push radial velocity exoplanet hunting to a whole whole new level.
Earth and its solar system compatriots all have nearly circular orbits, but many exoplanets orbit their stars on wildly eccentric paths. Is our home system strange? Or is our sense of the data skewed?
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/25 04:30 CDT
Learn about the formation and origin of the Solar System and go beyond our neighborhood to investigate exoplanets (planets around other stars) in this video of class 11 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.
How did planets originate? This is a question that has puzzled scientists for centuries, but one which they have been able to tackle directly only in the last few decades, thanks to two major developments: breakthroughs in telescope technology and ever-increasing computing power.
Update from Debra Fischer and her team on the intriguing results of their observations of the main Alpha Centauri stars, as well as future plans.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 12: Encyclopedia Galactica
In which we ponder the existence of others
Cosmos returns in fine form in its penultimate episode. Sagan explores the historical and scientific precedents for the search for extraterrestrial life (SETI) and our human desires to not be alone in the universe.
Planetary Radio: The Gemini Planet Imager
Featuring GPI PI Bruce Macintosh and Astronomer Franck Marchis
It's very nice to infer the existence of planets circling other stars. It's even better to see them. This new instrument has just become the most powerful exoplanet viewer yet created.
An update from Yale’s Debra Fischer about the Alpha Centauri planet hunt, partially sponsored by The Planetary Society, as well as her team’s efforts to remove “noise” from parent stars to help find exoplanets.
The European Space Agency will announce two major science missions this November, one of which is likely to be devoted to solar system exploration.
What have the recent discoveries of thousands of exoplanets told us about how we got here, and whether we are alone? In Destiny or Chance Revisited, Stuart Ross Taylor attempts to answer those two questions.
The Planetary Society sponsored Alpha Centauri planet search started using a newly upgraded system in May. Here is a quick update including info from project leader Debra Fischer from Yale about their new system.
I'm absolutely floored when I stop to think that our beautiful blue ocean is only one of perhaps a half dozen or more oceans on other worlds in our solar system, and only one of probably millions (or more) oceans on other Earth-like planets in our galaxy. Oceans abound!