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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

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.

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.

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