April 27th, 2010
I’m teaching the last week of my astronomy class, and the last topic I’m covering is exoplanets: how we find them and their properties as we currently understand them. The textbook I’m using is brand new, Foundations of Astrophysics by Ryden and Peterson, and covers some aspects of this hot subtopic pretty well, but it is a fast-changing area. A lot of the best material about exoplanets exists on webpages, so I wanted to compile some videos and webpages to complement the text.
Exoplanets have been found via a “Doppler Wobble” (the most common technique, transits (aka eclipses), heat signatures (e.g., with Spitzer Space Telescope), and directly imaged (with the Keck, Subaru, and Hubble Space Telescopes).
And finally, a long talk at Stanford by Geoff Marcy, one of the pioneers in discovering exoplanets. You want the real deal, here it is.
So, what are these other solar systems like? First a video, then some webpages summarizing what we know and tabulating the latest discoveries.
A summary of the type of planets found from a space.com link I’ve posted before here.
Now some general (and sometimes detailed) webpages:
exoplanets.org (basic catalog information and more — sortable lists so you can find the closest known exoplanets, for instance, handy for science fiction writers and SETI searchers at least)
Lynette Cook’s space art of exoplanets. Let’s put a face on these distant worlds.
OK, that’s not comprehensive, but some quality resources for this hot topic.