Reasons to Believe

Extrasolar Planets

  • Finding Planets in the Habitable Zone

    The inevitable finally happened. Astronomers using the Kepler Telescope detected five Earth-sized planets orbiting in the liquid water habitable zone. Yet, unlike previous bold assertions that such … more

  • Similar But Not The Same

    These are exciting times in the hunt for planets outside our solar system. The catalog of alien worlds grows (almost daily it seems) and continues to showcase planets that look nothing like ours.

    One … more

  • Planet from Another Galaxy Discovered

    I still remember the excitement I experienced as a kid each time someone gave me a box of Cracker Jacks. Not only were the caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts delicious, each box contained a surprise. … more

  • Many Earth-Sized Planets

    Perhaps the root of “barking up the wrong tree” is easier to decipher. Yet, one should take the latter advice to heart in trying to understand the apologetic implications that the recent … more

  • Improved Exoplanet Tool Promises Better Tests

    Much to my kids’ chagrin, I enjoy leisurely wandering around The Home Depot (or any other tool/hardware store). Occasionally, I’ll find a new or improved tool that would help me finish a … more

  • Habitable Planet Doubts: Waffling Science?

    A couple of weeks ago, I reported on a recently discovered exoplanet that some scientists felt confident hosted life.1 Now, another team of astronomers question whether the planet even exists. Are … more

  • What to Think of the Latest Habitable Planet Find

    “My own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent...I have almost no doubt about it.” What would cause UC Santa Cruz astrophysicist Steven Vogt to make … more

  • Lunar Eclipse: Tool for Studying Exoplanets

    The Moon has fascinated every one of my kids. Sometimes they would look out the window with their favorite stuffed animal. Often they made sure everybody knew the Moon’s location if they found … more

  • What’s So Special about Jupiter and Saturn?

    It was 1980. I was scheduled to speak in what was then an extremely violent part of Soweto, South Africa. Five burly men joined me in a car ride to the event; I sat in the middle of the back seat and … more

  • Spin-Orbit Misalignment of Extrasolar Planets

    In 1995, astronomers detected, for the first time, planets outside the solar system .1 At the time, many researchers expressed great optimism that most, if not all, exoplanets would prove to be close … more

  • Earth: The Champion Dynamo

    During my late teens some friends entered me in a dance endurance contest. Unbeknownst to me, they laid bets about how long I could go before my pace would slow down. Long after I’d worn out … more

  • Reviewing Exoplanet Findings

    Most recently, the European HARPS collaboration announced the detection of a star orbited by at least five, maybe seven, planets. The five strongest signals in the data correspond to planets similar … more

  • Doubling the Exoplanet Catalog

    A recent article published by Fox News contains some bold claims. The article describes the preliminary analysis of the first six weeks of data from NASA’s Kepler Mission, which searches for … more