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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

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.

Join Our Galactic Quest for Exoplanets

Susan Lendroth • September 30, 2010

With the astronomical community is buzzing with news of an exoplanet found in a star's habitable zone, The Planetary Society will co-sponsor a special event that will be streamed live on Monday, October 4.

From the Ground and from Space, New Planetary Systems Unveiled

Amir Alexander • August 27, 2010

Two nearly simultaneous announcements by scientists that they have detected entire planetary system deep in space have set the astronomical community abuzz.

Hubble turns 20

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2010

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. It's hard to believe it's been going strong for so many years.

Evaporating exoplanet

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2010

CoRoT-7b was the first unambiguously rocky planet to be discovered and was quite small, at under five Earth masses. But a press release issued today suggests that its history probably has little to do with Earth's.

Kepler discovers its first five exoplanets

Bruce Betts • January 04, 2010

Congratulations to NASA's Kepler mission team on their announcement of the discovery of its first five exoplanets (planets around other stars).

Two cool discoveries today: icy-hot exoplanet and smallest ever Kuiper Belt object

Emily Lakdawalla • December 16, 2009

There are two cool stories circulating today on the theme of discovering new places in the cosmos.

FINDS Exo-Earths Starts Up: Testing the Prototype

Debra Fischer • October 30, 2009 • 2

The prototype that Julien constructed in the lab was taken to Lick Observatory, and we had our first-light run with the fiber in July.

Europlanet : CoRoT - Preliminary Results

Doug Ellison • August 20, 2007

ESA's planet-hunting satellite COROT bagged its first exoplanet in observations of the star COROT-Exo-1.

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