Monday, May 22, 2017

Growing List of Planets

Finding new planets in our galaxy is no longer a rarity.  It seems every day brings a new discovery of a few planets.  The first planet outside our Solar System, also called exoplanets, was discovered in the mid 1990s.  In just a bit over 20 years, the number of known exoplanets has grown to 3,607 (as of April 1, 2017).  WOW!  But what is even more exciting is that we are finding more and more Earth sized exoplanets which brings in to question the possibility of life.  We also find Earth sized planets in conditions very different from our own.  Take this very recent discovery of a very cold Earth sized planet in another Solar System.

Smallest Planet Ever Observed by Microlensing

It's not that the planet is cold that makes it interesting, but that it is the smallest planet discovered using the technique of microlensing.  For a good discussion on microlensing, go here:

Gravitational Microlensing

This is super cool!  It adds to the tools we have to discover new planets.  It won't be long and I am convinced we'll have evidence of an Earth sized planet with water on the surface or oxygen in the atmosphere.  After that it is only a matter of time before we discover life elsewhere in our galaxy and that will be the ultimate scientific discovery!

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