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The Detection and Characterization of Extrasolar Planets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-323
Number of pages28
JournalChallenges
Volume5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2014

Abstract

We have now confirmed the existence of > 1800 planets orbiting stars other than the Sun; known as extrasolar planets or exoplanets. The different methods for detecting such planets are sensitive to different regions of parameter space, and so, we are discovering a wide diversity of exoplanets and exoplanetary systems. Characterizing such planets is difficult, but we are starting to be able to determine something of their internal composition and are beginning to be able to probe their atmospheres, the first step towards the detection of bio-signatures and, hence, determining if a planet could be habitable or not. Here, Iwill review how we detect exoplanets, how we characterize exoplanetary systems and the exoplanets themselves, where we stand with respect to potentially habitable planets and how we are progressing towards being able to actually determine if a planet could host life or not.

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