There are more than 5,000 exoplanets discovered out there. Sure, you would say that the number should be a lot bigger, considering that there are trillions of stars in the observable Universe.
Finding an exoplanet is a lot harder than finding a star. That’s because planets don’t emit light, and astronomers had been relying a lot on the transit method. That implies that the planet passes in front of its host star relative to the observer. That’s when the planet can be seen appearing as a dot surrounded by the star’s volume. Catching the moment when a planet passes in front of its host star is another major challenge.
Either way, astronomers made some huge progress when it comes to finding exoplanets. The first exoplanet was discovered in 1992. Therefore, 5,000 exoplanets found in 30 years seems like a pretty good score.
Astronomers keep looking for exoplanets, but is that the correct approach?
While it certainly cannot be a bad thing that astronomers keep looking for exoplanets, maybe it could be even better if they focus more on those remote worlds that they’ve already discovered. More precisely, those found in the last decade are worth becoming even more serious study material, as a researcher claims according to Forbes.com.
At one of the world’s biggest exoplanetary science conferences known as Extrasolar Planets IV (Exo4), Jason Steffen, the organizing chair and also an astrophysicist at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, shared his views on space exploration regarding other planets.
Back in early 1992, radio astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced that two planets are orbiting the pulsar dubbed PSR 1257+12. That discovery is generally considered the first detection of exoplanets.
The exoplanets that have already been discovered fall along a range of masses, sizes, as well as orbital positions.