Exoplanets: Finding, Exploring, and Understanding Alien Worlds

Front Cover
Springer Science & Business Media, Dec 2, 2011 - Science - 281 pages

Exoplanets: Finding, Exploring, and Understanding Alien Worlds probes the basis for possible answers to the fundamentals questions asked about these planets orbiting stars other than our Sun. This book examines what such planets might be like, where they are, and how we find them.

Until around ten years ago, the only planets that we knew about were within the Solar System. The first genuine planet beyond the confines of the Solar System was discovered only 1988. Since then another 350 or so exoplanets have been detected by various methods, and most of these haven been found in the last ten years. Although many more exoplanets discoveries may be expected to occur even as this book is being read, a large enough data set is now available to form the basis for an informed general account of exoplanets.

The topic hence is an extremely "hot" one - all the more so because the recently launched Kepler spacecraft should soon start uncovering many more exoplanets, some perhaps comparable with the Earth (and therefore possibly alternative homes for mankind, if we could ever reach them). Exoplanets: Finding, Exploring, and Understanding Alien Life gives a comprehensive, balances, and above all accurate account of exoplanets.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Because We Live on One or Why Planets and Exoplanets Are Important
1
A Quick Tour of the Exoplanet Menagerie
7
An Exoplanet Retrospective
15
In the Beginning The First Exoplanet Discoveries
45
On the Track of Alien Planets  The Radial Velocity or Doppler Method 70 of All Exoplanet Primary Discoveries
71
On the Track of Alien Planets The Transit Method 23 of All Exoplanet Primary Discoveries
77
On the Track of Alien Planets Direct Imaging and Observation 29 of All Exoplanet Primary Discoveries or 6 if Free Floating Planets are Included
105
On the Track of Alien Planets  Gravitational Microlensing 23 of All Exoplanet Primary Discoveries
118
Exoplanets Revealed What They Are Really Like
156
Exoplanets and Exoplanetary Systems Pasts and Futures
191
Future Homes for Humankind?
203
Appendix I Nomenclature or Whats in a Name?
233
Appendix II Note on Distances Sizes and Masses etc
239
Appendix III Further Reading
243
Appendix IV Technical Background Some of the Mathematics and Physics Involved in the Study of Exoplanets
247
Appendix V Names Acronyms and Abbreviations
269

On the Track of Alien Planets  Timing 19 of All Exoplanet Primary Discoveries
127
On the Track of Alien Planets Other Approaches 0 of All Exoplanet Primary Discoveries
133
Where Do We Go from Here? Future Approaches to Exoplanet Detection and Study
143

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Chris Kitchin has written or contributed to over two dozen books, and has published more than 500 articles in the astronomical journals and magazines. He also appears regularly on television, including many appearances on BBC TV's Sky at Night. His works for Springer includes, A Photo Guide to the Constellations: A Self-Teaching Guide to Finding Your Way Around the Heavens (1997), Solar Observing Techniques (2001), Illustrated Dictionary of Practical Astronomy (2002), and most recently Galaxies in Turmoil (2007). In his 'day job' Chris is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at the University of Hertfordshire, where until recently he was also Head of Physics and Astronomy, and Director of the University Observatory. Like many other astronomers Chris's interest in the subject started early. At the age of fourteen, he constructed an 8-inch Newtonian after spending hundreds of hours grinding and polishing the main mirror from scratch. Despite using some of the largest telescopes in the world since then, Chris still enjoys just 'gazing at the heavens' - though nowadays it's through a German-made Zeiss Maksutov telescope.

Bibliographic information