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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

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.

Searching for one planet, finding another

Konstantin Batygin • May 23, 2011

Some parallels exist between Odysseus' journey and the discoveries of exoplanets. What initially started out as a well-planned trip from Troy back to Ithaca, turned into a series of rather unfortunate events, with episodes of fighting Cyclops and having your crew turned into swine.

FINDS: One Step Closer to Faraway Earths

Amir Alexander • April 01, 2011

Amir Alexander explains more about the FINDS Exo-Earths project and how it will help planet hunters detect distant Earths in the depths of space.

More on Kepler exoplanet discoveries

Emily Lakdawalla • February 04, 2011

Here's some links to some good followup stories on Wednesday's Kepler press briefing.

Kepler announcement today: More than a thousand exoplanets including one 6-planet system

Emily Lakdawalla • February 02, 2011

I wasn't able to watch the Kepler press briefing today so I will give you links to some of my favorite blogs for information on today's announcement, which follows a major data release last night as well as the publication of a paper in Nature.

Grab bag: "Rocky" exoplanet, molten lunar core, Rhea close encounter

Emily Lakdawalla • January 10, 2011

The Kepler exoplanet hunting mission has made news today with a report of "its first rocky planet."

Help to hunt for planets!

Emily Lakdawalla • December 16, 2010

The Planet Hunters website, like Zooniverse's other projects, is very, very easy to get up and running.

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