For centuries, people have speculated about the possibility of planets orbiting distant stars, but only since the 1990s has technology allowed astronomers to detect them. At this point, more than 6,000 such exoplanets have been identified, with the pace of discovery accelerating after the launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the Webb Space Telescope.
Astrophysicist Joshua Winn provides an inside view of the detective work astronomers perform as they find and study exoplanets and describes the surprising—sometimes downright bizarre—planets and systems they have found. He explains how these discoveries are revolutionizing astronomy, and he explores the status and possible future of the search for another Earth. Drawing on his own and other scientists’ work, he also considers how the discovery of exoplanets and their faraway solar systems changes our perspectives on the universe and our place in it.
Winn is a professor of astrophysics at Princeton University. He was a participating scientist in NASA’s Kepler mission and is an architect of the agency’s ongoing Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission. His book, The Little Book of Exoplanets (Princeton University Press), is available for purchase.
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