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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

Whither the Weather? A Jet Stream Explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/06/07 11:01 CDT | 4 comments

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

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Atmospheric Waves Awareness: An Explainer

Posted by Anna Scott on 2016/04/20 10:30 CDT | 4 comments

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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Favorite Astro Plots #4: Classifying Exoplanets

Posted by Jingjing Chen on 2016/04/15 08:04 CDT | 6 comments

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.

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Continuing the Hunt for Exoplanets

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2016/03/04 10:04 CST | 6 comments

Meg Schwamb highlights some of the upcoming space-based missions that will search for planets beyond our solar system.

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Take My Free Online College Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy CSUDH Class

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/02/04 05:00 CST | 2 comments

Our own Dr. Bruce Betts is once again teaching his Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy college course online. Come join him.

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Using Lasers to Lock Down Exoplanet Hunting

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.

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The Habitable Zone of Inhabited Planets

Posted by Jaime Green on 2014/07/07 03:14 CDT | 10 comments

A team of Colombian researchers are arguing for a new refinement to the idea of the habitable zone that takes the presence of life itself into account.

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How Weird Is Our Solar System?

Posted by Jaime Green on 2014/05/05 10:54 CDT | 6 comments

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?

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Intro Astronomy 2014. Class 11: Exoplanets and Solar System Origin and Formation

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.

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Update on the search for planets in the Alpha Centauri system

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/04/04 10:29 CDT | 2 comments

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.

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