The Importance of Extrasolar Planets

A picture of several potential habitable worlds in the universe

Extrasolar planets, often called exoplanets, are planets that exist in other solar systems other than our own. These planets are very hard to find and study because their light is fainter than the light given off by the stars which they orbit. In 1992, astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail noticed several planets orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12. They only detected gas giants similar to Jupiter, leading to the hypothesis that gas giants are more common than terrestrial planets. This hypothesis has been disproven because of the fact that these gas planets were simply easier to detect because of their massive size.

Studying these extrasolar planets could bring us much more insight on how the Earth came to be and what changes we may potentially see in both our solar system and our planet. Perhaps there will even come a time where humanity will have to travel from one habitable planet to another every few millennia because of the limited timespan of habitability for each of these planets. I personally believe that for humanity to live forever, we will have to create a planet-like space ship that simply floats in space, away from stars, black holes, and anything else that may easily destroy the spaceship.

Who knows? There may even be a human-like creature on some of these planets out there in the universe that are writing a blog for their astronomy class and wondering if there are others like them out there.

Published by andyyangdk

Vandy

3 thoughts on “The Importance of Extrasolar Planets

  1. I feel like we can learn a lot about our own solar system through the observation of other solar systems, and exosolar planets are the key to discovery. Additionally, I feel like there has to be other life out there, even if it does not look like what we stereotype, the idea that we are the only life in the galaxy is completely illogical. Exoplanets might sustain life already, we just need to discover it!

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  2. I’ve recently become fascinated with exoplanets. Did you discover one that particularly interested you? Check out the Gliese 581c. I feel like more resources need to go towards observing them because they could be the key to our planet’s next move.

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  3. Exoplanets are definitely an interesting category in the field of astronomy. My interest in them stems from an earlier astronomy class where the professor actually launched a telescope into space in search of exoplanets. I admit that since that class, I’ve been lackluster in keeping up with the discoveries but this post has showcased many examples. Thank you for that and if you want to check on that telescope, you can search “NASA TESS”. Also, I hadn’t thought about a “planet-like spaceship” for humans to one day inhabit. That’s a really interesting idea!

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