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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

Latest Blogs

Can you find a new planet?

Martin Still • January 07, 2013 • 1

A change in the Kepler data delivery process provides both scientists and the public to get involved in planet discovery.

A dispatch from J-school: two short videos

Jason Davis • October 23, 2012

Two short videos produced by Jason Davis on astronomy and planetary science work taking place at the University of Arizona.

First Planet Discovered in Alpha Centauri System

Bruce Betts • October 17, 2012 • 12

European astronomers have made the first planetary discovery in the closest-to-Earth Alpha Centauri star system. Here is some information about the discovery, and insights from Yale Astronomer Debra Fischer, who leads another Alpha Centauri planet search partially supported by The Planetary Society.

DPS 2012, Monday: Icy moons and a four-star exoplanet

Emily Lakdawalla • October 15, 2012 • 1

In the first full day of the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, I listened to scientific sessions on icy worlds and on an exoplanet in a four-star system.

Every Planet in the Galaxy!

Mat Kaplan • June 20, 2012 • 2

Okay, just the ones we know about. xkcd does it again.

Planets around Alpha Centauri?

Bruce Betts • April 24, 2012 • 2

Do planets circle our closest stellar neighbors, the system loved by science fiction: Alpha Centauri? We don’t know. But, Debra Fischer, Julien Spronck, and their colleagues at Yale University, in part with Planetary Society support, are trying to find out.

A possible nine-planet system

Emily Lakdawalla • April 06, 2012 • 1

Someone on Twitter pointed me to a paper recently posted to ArXiv titled "Evidence for 9 planets in the HD 10180 system." If the (tentative) conclusion holds up, HD 10180 will be the first exoplanetary system known to have more planets than our own.

Watch this week's Google+ Space Hangout

Emily Lakdawalla • January 19, 2012

This week's lineup is a largely astronomical crowd so most of the conversation concerned dark matter and boiling exoplanets and imaging the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

Separating fact from speculation about Kepler-20's Earth-sized planets

Emily Lakdawalla • December 20, 2011 • 1

A large team of researchers has announced in a Nature article the discovery of not one, but two, Earth-sized planets orbiting a star named Kepler-20. This article separates the observational facts from the quite-likely-to-be-true inferences from the downstream speculations.

Hubble's Millionth Observation

Bill Nye • July 05, 2011

The Hubble Space Telescope has recorded its millionth observation. The planet is designated HAT-P-7b.

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