Reasons to Believe

Extrasolar Planets

  • Exoplanets Set to Reveal Earth's Rarity

    Fifteen years ago, astronomers knew of only eight planets in the universe (nine if you still count Pluto). Now nearly 400 planets outside our solar system populate an ever-increasing planetary … more

  • Moons Like Avatar's Pandora Could Be Found

    Yahoo! News, “Moons Like Avatar's Pandora Could Be Found,” by Charles Q. Choi, December 28, 2009 ; more

  • Earth’s Unique Element Abundances

    For the planet’s size and distance from its star, it possesses an anomalous (abnormal) amount of every measurable element and compound. Today, the list of such uniquely abundant or scarce … more

  • Rare Solar System, Rare Sun

    This finding persuaded many astronomers and millions of lay people to conclude that Carl Sagan was right—our Milky Way Galaxy (MWG) was filled with billions of planets, most of which would prove … more

  • Why Dusty Stars Make Good Planets

    For anyone trying to keep a house or office clean, dust bunnies are the enemy. Yet these annoyances form a crucial ally when trying to form a habitable planetary system.

    When gas clouds condense some … more

  • Volcanism and Plate Tectonics on Earthlike Planets

    For advanced life to be possible, the planet's surface must possess both landmasses and oceans. Both features must cover a large fraction of the planet's surface (see here) and must do so continuously … more

  • Finding Oceans and Continents and Extrasolar Planets

    The quest to find an Earth-like planet capable of supporting advanced life will not be fulfilled simply by discovering a planet approximating the mass of Earth that orbits its star at a distance that … more

  • Debris Disks and Planets Show Solar System Design

    Analysis of objects orbiting stars has provided evidence for the supernatural design of our solar system.

    Nearly every young stellar object that is in or adjacent to the spiral arms of the Milky Way … more

  • Suicidal Planet Seems on Death Spiral into Star

    Source: Yahoo! News, AP Science, "Suicidal Planet Seems on Death Spiral into Star," by Seth Borenstein, August 26, 2009; more

  • The Tidal Habitable Zones

    Habitable zones support an important line of evidence for the supernatural design of life-friendly planets. Two such locations include the water and the ultraviolet radiation habitable zones. A planet … more

  • How Unlikely Is Our Planetary System?

    The year 1995 marked the first time astronomers discovered an extrasolar planet.1 It was found orbiting the star 51 Pegasi. Today, scientists know of more than 350 planets residing outside the solar … more

  • Through the Lens: Astronomy, "Habitable Zones" (High Definition)

    Video Url:

    Discussion Ideas

    Before watching the video:

    Activity: Research the term "habitable zone." What does it entail? What are the key criteria that scientists consider when classifying a … more

  • A Complete Sample of Extrasolar Planets

    Researchers first detected a star-orbiting planet outside the solar system in 1995.1 It was found orbiting the star 51 Pegasi. Today, astronomers know of 347 extrasolar planets. While this is not a … more

  • Lightest known Exoplanet Discovered

    Source: Yahoo! News, "Lightest known Exoplanet Discovered" April 21, 2009; more

  • Earth-Like Planet Found Around Sun-Like Star

    Source: Yahoo! News, "Earth-like Planet Found Around Sun-Like Star," February 03, 2009; more

  • Coreless Terrestrial Planets

    As I described in last week’s Today’s New Reasons To Believe, two MIT planetary scientists added to the list of these features. Their modeling of the formation history of planets the size … more