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Extrasolar Planets

Alien worlds are a staple of science fiction but until just a few months ago, they had no place in science fact. Despite decades of earnest searches, astronomers had no direct evidence that planets circle other stars. Then last October, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of Geneva Observatory detected a planet circling the star 51 Pegasi--and the floodgates opened.

articles & documents

A Shortage of Planets

NASA Astrobiology Institute, March 5, 2001

When they turned the Hubble Space Telescope on a distant globular cluster of stars, astronomers expected to find fifteen or twenty planets. They found zero. R

Atmosphere of an Extrasolar Planet Detected for the First Time

Leslie Mullen, NASA Astrobiology Institute, December 5, 2001

Astronomers have made the first direct detection and chemical analysis of an atmosphere of a planet that exists outside our solar system.  R

Extrasolar Planets with Earth-like Orbits

Leslie Mullen, NASA Astrobiology Institute, August 8, 2001

Scientists are discovering extrasolar planets with Earth-like orbits. Could it be possible for Earth-like orbiting planets to habor life just like Earth? R

Finding Distant Worlds

Leslie Mullen, NASA Astriobiology Institute

We know that there are at least 75 planets outside our own solar system, orbiting their distant stars. Although we have never seen any of these planets with our own eyes, several different techniques exist to detect these extrasolar planets. R

More Planets

Gordon Creighton, Flying Saucer Review, Volume 45/4, Winter 2000

In FSR 45/2 mention was made of recently discovered planets outside of our own Solar System. In May of this year European astronomers using the European astronomers using the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at La Silla (Chile) announced the finding of eight more "probables" orbiting around other stars in our Galaxy, *thus taking the total so far to 43*.  R

The Search for the Extrasolar Planets: A Brief History of the Search, the Findings and the Future Implications

George H. Bell, Arizona State University

This paper is an attempt to provide a review of humankind's quest for the discovery of planets outside our Solar System.