Earths in Other Solar Systems

A NASA-funded Research project to Understand Where and How Earth-like Planets that are Suitable for Life Form


Renu Malhotra – LPL Professor and EOS Team Member – has recently given an excellent TEDx talk on the Search for Planet 9. The talk is now available online – check it out! Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on...

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Atmospheric characterization of transiting exoplanets Previous posts on this blog have discussed different methods for detecting exoplanets, including my favorite, the transit method. Transiting exoplanets, which pass directly in front of their host stars as seen from Earth, are particularly exciting because we can learn a lot more about them than other exoplanets. We can directly measure their size with the transit depth, or in other...

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There are many ways astronomers have developed to detect exoplanets. Mikayla Mace introduced the most popular methods—radial velocity, transit, and direct imaging—in an earlier post on this blog. Each of these has their own strengths, making them useful for detecting exoplanets with different orbital parameters. In some cases, one detection method can used to verify an exoplanet detected via another method and strengthen our...

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I sat down on my third flight of the day, and the last that I would be taking to the big island of Hawaii on my way to the Mauna Kea observatories. The passenger with the seat adjacent to mine followed and sat down. My step-mom was a flight attendant, so flying is strictly routine to me by now. I typically slouch into my headphones when I sit down, not to arise until the plane is back on the ground. However, I usually spend at least a...

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The current estimate for the number of stars with Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zone is about one in four, according to Dr. Daniel Apai Principal Investigator for Project EOS. Other researchers estimates range from as few as 5 percent to more than 100 percent, which means that more than one exist per star. Despite even the most optimistic statistics, the only life found in the universe is that which is found on Earth....

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A closer look at dust particles Young planet-forming disks contain trillions of tiny microscopic dust particles. Even in the tenuous protoplanetary disk, these particles bump into each other every now and then, sticking together and growing larger and larger with every collision, eventually forming the building blocks of planets. Historically, dust grains have been treated as being spherical and compact, but in recent years the...

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Methods for Hunting Exoplanets


Posted By on Aug 3, 2016

“Usually the first thing you find in astronomy are the freaks,” said Dr. Travis Barman, Project EOS co-investigator and associate professor at the University of Arizona. “And the freaks tell you about the exceptions not the rule.” Exoplanets are illusive objects. They are difficult to detect using even the most powerful telescopes because they are dim and cool relative to objects such as galaxies and stars, according to Dr. Daniel...

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How do planets form? This is a question that scientists have asked themselves for centuries. Kant (in 1755) and Laplace (in 1796) postulated the nebular hypothesis, which states that the solar system planets formed from a rotating disk of material. Over the years planet formation theory has been greatly expanded and improved with the detailed knowledge gained from observing and exploring the solar system and studying the meteoritic...

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A strange and new extrasolar system was discovered by graduate research fellow and Project EOS collaborator Kevin Wagner, principal investigator for Project EOS Daniel Apai, and assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona Kaitlin Kratter, announced July 7, 2016 in a paper published in the journal Science. The system contains a total of three stars. Two stars, one sun-like in character and the other less massive,...

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  Discovering Earth 2.0, another planet like our Earth that could host life on its surface, requires us to characterize the atmosphere of the planet. An important feature we need to study is the clouds in that atmosphere. What are they made of? How are they positioned across the globe and what is their vertical extent? The answers to these questions will help us determine if the climate of the planet is hospitable to life. But...

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