(Exoplanet is short for "extra-solar planet
," which is a planet outside the solar system.) Astronomers would like to find a small, rocky planet not too far from or too close to its star--one that looks a lot like Earth.
"Finding the existence of water on an extra-solar planet
is a vital milestone along that road of discovery."
Gliese 581c is the smallest extra-solar planet
Scientists believe the planet is 1.5 times larger and five times heavier than Earth, making it the smallest extra-solar planet
Scientists believe it is only 1.5 times larger and five times more massive than Earth, making it the smallest extra-solar planet
FOR THE FIRST TIME, amateur astronomers have made a major contribution to the discovery of a transiting extra-solar planet
. Such planets periodically cross the face of their parent star, causing a slight dip in brightness that generally lasts a few hours.
Scientists believe it is only 1.5 times larger and five times more massive than the earth, making it the smallest extra-solar planet
The next section, "Other Solar Systems," follows Galileo's deathbed and jumps to the present to the discovery of the first extra-solar planet
. The section after that, "Tools for Astronomy," hops back to the development of various types of telescopes.
Michel Mayor of Geneva Observatory, the person who discovered the first extra-solar planet
around 51 Peg, discussed the effort underway to find planets of low mass around nearby stars such as [alpha] Cen B.
Their topics are here and now, user's guide to the sky: patterns and cycles, the origin of modern astronomy, light and telescopes, Sun light and Sun atoms, the terrestrial planets, the outer solar system, origin of the solar system and extra-solar planets
, the family of stars, the structure and formation of stars, the deaths of stars, the Milky Way galaxy, galaxies: normal and active, modern cosmology, and life on other worlds.
As ScienceAlert points out, the find, whenever it happens, would be a major breakthrough as not many extra-solar planets
have been spotted directly.