JAN 07, 2020 3:16 PM PST

Everything You Need to Know About Exoplanets

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

While most people are familiar with the planets residing in our solar system from lessons taught back in grade school, it’s important to remember that our solar system is just a tiny blip in this ever-expanding universe. There are literally countless worlds existing in stellar systems besides our own known as exoplanets, and the number of known exoplanets is growing with each passing day thanks to space telescope observations.

For the most part, exoplanets are comprised of the very same elements that make up the planets in our solar system, albeit with different composition balances that give each exoplanet its own distinctive qualities. There are four primary exoplanet classifications, including Neptune-like worlds, Hot Jupiter-like words, Super Earth-like worlds, and Earth Analog-like worlds.

Neptune-like exoplanets are large and gaseous much like Neptune, and while they may not be the same color or size, they generally lack any terrestrial qualities. Hot Jupiter-like exoplanets are star-hugging gaseous exoplanets with extreme temperatures that occur due to their distance from their host star. Super Earth-like exoplanets are terrestrial worlds that make the Earth look small in comparison. And lastly, Earth Analog-like worlds are terrestrial planets that compare in size and composition to Earth.

When it comes to finding exoplanets, astronomers don’t generally get to observe them directly. Most of the time, they utilize transit events to detect their existence around other stars and measure the amount of blocked sunlight and frequency of blockages to discern how large those worlds are and how close they orbit their host star. In some cases, astronomers can even determine a world’s composition.

While thousands of exoplanets have been confirmed to exist thus far, most of those have been found right here in our own Milky Way galaxy and there’s no telling how many might be residing in the depths of the universe. With all the stars we can see in the night sky, one can only imagine just how many undiscovered exoplanets might be out there, and whether any might harbor intelligent life as the Earth does.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JAN 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Eruption of an "Extra-Galactic Old Faithful"
JAN 13, 2021
The Eruption of an "Extra-Galactic Old Faithful"
We know that geysers like Old Faithful can erupt on a predictable schedule, and now researchers have learned more about ...
JAN 17, 2021
Space & Astronomy
New Way to Extract Energy from Black Holes
JAN 17, 2021
New Way to Extract Energy from Black Holes
In his theory of general relativity, Einstein predicted that black holes harbor an enormous amount of energy. And now, r ...
FEB 07, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA Promotes the Development of Hybrid Aircraft
FEB 07, 2021
NASA Promotes the Development of Hybrid Aircraft
Air travel is thought to be a significant contributor to emissions that lead to climate change. NASA is now launching an ...
JUN 26, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Cardiac Atrophy Findings May Aid Astronauts in Long Space Flights
JUN 26, 2021
Cardiac Atrophy Findings May Aid Astronauts in Long Space Flights
Researchers led by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have discovered the molecular process behind a da ...
JUL 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
After the Big Bang Came the Cosmic Dawn
JUL 04, 2021
After the Big Bang Came the Cosmic Dawn
It's been estimated that the universe began about 13.8 billion years ago in a violent explosion known as the Big Bang. R ...
JUL 22, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
JUL 22, 2021
Telescope Riding a Balloon Could Replace Hubble
The Earth's atmosphere often muffles views from ground-based telescopes when observing space. Now, a research c ...
Loading Comments...