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Extrasolar Planets

Is our world unique? Is it the only one in existence, or are there others – perhaps many others – out there? Do other beings – maybe even intelligent ones – call these worlds their home, and live out their lives completely unbeknownst to us?

It was only in 1995 that we first discovered evidence that other stars had planets, as ours does.  Now we have detected many thousands of other worlds, and evidence suggests that a majority of sun-like stars possess them.  Most of these stellar systems bear little resemblance to ours. The easiest planets to detect are massive worlds located close to their stars, so "hot Jupiters" dominate the current list of exoplanets.  As our surveys continue, however, we are discovering more and more Neptunes and even super-Earths, in orbits farther and farther from their suns.

How to Search for Exoplanets

How are scientists searching for extrasolar planets? Read here of the different approaches, their strengths and weaknesses, and how planet hunters are pursuing them all.

Catalog of Exoplanets

We recommend the Paris Observatory's Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. The Planetary Society no longer maintains our own Catalog of Exoplanets.

Our Exoplanets Research

Exoplanets Laser

Our newest sponsored project uses a triple-laser system to support precise, long-term spectrograph calibrations.

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Alpha Centauri Planet Search

Are there Earth-like planets around our nearest stellar neighbor?

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FINDS Exo-Earths

FINDS Exo-Earths is a fiber-optic spectrograph technology that helps exoplanet hunters look for worlds beyond our solar system.

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Latest Blogs

Farewell, Kepler

Jason Davis • October 30, 2018 • 4

NASA's Kepler space telescope helped us find our place in the cosmos.

A WIYN-win partnership

Jason Davis • June 04, 2018 • 1

NASA and the National Science Foundation are teaming up to observe exoplanets discovered by Kepler and TESS.

An update on the potential habitability of TRAPPIST-1

Franck Marchis • April 30, 2018 • 1

One year ago, Franck Marchis wrote an article about the remarkable discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system. Here's an update.

This newly discovered Earth-sized planet could harbor life

Jason Davis • November 15, 2017 • 3

And it's only 11 light-years away.

This giant, flower-shaped starshade creates an artificial eclipse to see distant exoplanets

Jason Rhodes • June 23, 2017 • 8

Starshade is a proposed flower-shaped spacecraft that can create an artificial eclipse, allowing space telescopes to spot planets orbiting distant stars.

Wonderful potentially habitable worlds around TRAPPIST-1

Franck Marchis • February 22, 2017 • 14

Scientists have found seven, Earth-size planets orbiting a star just 40 light years away. Three lie in the habitable zone and could have water on their surfaces.

Dynamics of Exoplanet Systems

Erika Nesvold • October 31, 2016

At this year’s Division for Planetary Sciences/European Planetary Science Congress meeting, the Exoplanet Dynamics session was packed full of talks on tightly-packed multi-planet systems and their instabilities.

Proxima Centauri b: Have we just found Earth’s cousin right on our doorstep?

Franck Marchis • August 24, 2016 • 19

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.

Whither the Weather? A Jet Stream Explainer

Anna Scott • June 07, 2016 • 4

Jet streams are found in planetary atmospheres throughout our solar system. But what exactly are they?

Atmospheric Waves Awareness: An Explainer

Anna Scott • April 20, 2016 • 4

There are two types of atmospheric waves that are critically important on Earth and other planets: gravity waves and planetary waves.

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