Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life beyond Our Solar System
The past few years have seen an incredible explosion in our knowledge of the universe. Since its 2009 launch, the Kepler satellite has discovered more than two thousand exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. More exoplanets are being discovered all the time, and even mo... read full description below.
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|Library of Congress
||Planets, Life on other planets, Extraterrestrial beings, Extrasolar planets
Description of this Book
The past few years have seen an incredible explosion in our knowledge of the universe. Since its 2009 launch, the Kepler satellite has discovered more than two thousand exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. More exoplanets are being discovered all the time, and even more remarkable than the sheer number of exoplanets is their variety. In Exoplanets, astronomer Michael Summers and physicist James Trefil explore these remarkable recent discoveries: planets revolving around pulsars, planets made of diamond, planets that are mostly water, and numerous rogue planets wandering through the emptiness of space. This captivating book reveals the latest discoveries and argues that the incredible richness and complexity we are finding necessitates a change in our questions and mental paradigms. In short, we have to change how we think about the universe and our place in it, because it is stranger and more interesting than we could have imagined.
Awards, Reviews & Star Ratings
||<b>BOOKLIST, Starred ReviewThe existence of planets outside Earth s solar system was long assumed, and recent technologies, including improved telescopes and research satellites, have not only confirmed their existence but revealed all kinds of surprises. The first verified exoplanet, for instance, was orbiting the wrong kind of star, a pulsar, or what was left after a supernova that was supposed to blast to smithereens anything even close to resembling a planet. Meanwhile, the statuses of solar system objects besides the recognized planets were changing as water, indispensable for Earth-like life, was detected as superficial ice and subsurface oceans on some moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune as well as on big bodies in the Kuiper Belt, such as thedemoted planet Pluto, which thereby regained its title. Astonishment continued as huge, rocky Super Earths, inexplicably light planets, pure-carbon diamond planets, planets circling more than one star, starhugging hot planets, and rogue planets unconnected to stars were detected. These revelations, how they were made, imaginative voyages to five un-Earthly types of planet, and their implications for life and intelligence elsewhere than on Earth are concisely illuminated by astrophysicists Summers and Trefil in this marvelously fascinating and wonderfully accessible illustrated book. Ray Olson
MICHAEL SUMMERS is a planetary scientist and professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University. Since 1989, he has served on the mission teams of several NASA space probes in the role of science planning and interpretation of spacecraft observations. He is currently a coinvestigator on the NASA New Horizons mission to the Pluto-Charon double planet, where he serves as the deputy lead of the Atmospheres Theme Team. JAMES TREFIL is Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University. He has written more than 50 books on science for a general audience. His writing has won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Westinghouse Science Journalism Award, and other honors.