Group S Exoplanets And Aliens

An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet that orbits a star other than the Sun. Over 3,000 exoplanets have been discovered since 1988 (more specifically, 3,437 planets in 2,571 planetary systems, including 585 multiple planetary systems, have been confirmed, as of 20 June 2016).

HARPS (since 2004) has discovered about a hundred exoplanets while the Kepler space telescope (since 2009) has found more than two thousand. Kepler has also detected a few thousand candidate planets, of which about 11% may be false positives. On 10 May 2016, NASA verified 1,284 new exoplanets found by Kepler; the single largest finding of planets to date. On average, there is at least one planet per star, with a percentage having multiple planets About 1 in 5 Sun-like stars have an "Earth-sized" planet in the habitable zone, with the nearest expected to be within 12 light-years distance from Earth. Assuming 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, that would be 11 billion potentially habitable Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way, rising to 40 billion if planets orbiting the numerous red dwarfs are included.

The least massive planet known is PSR B1257+12 A, also known as Draugr, which is about twice the mass of the Moon. The most massive planet listed on the NASA Exoplanet Archive is DENIS-P J082303.1-491201 b, about 29 times the mass of Jupiter, although according to most definitions of a planet, it is too massive to be a planet and may be a brown dwarf instead. There are planets that are so near to their star that they take only a few hours to orbit and there are others so far away that they take thousands of years to orbit. Some are so far out that it is difficult to tell whether they are gravitationally bound to the star. Almost all of the planets detected so far are within the Milky Way, but there have also been a few possible detections of extragalactic planets.

The discovery of exoplanets has intensified interest in the search for extraterrestrial life. There is special interest in planets that orbit in a star's habitable zone, where it is possible for liquid water (and therefore life as we know it) to exist on the surface. The study of planetary habitability also considers a wide range of other factors in determining the suitability of a planet for hosting life.

Besides exoplanets, there are also rogue planets, which do not orbit any star and which tend to be considered separately, especially if they are gas giants, in which case they are often counted, like WISE 0855−0714, as sub-brown dwarfs. The rogue planets in the Milky Way possibly number in the billions (or more).

Alternatives[edit]
However, the IAU's working definition is not universally accepted. One alternate suggestion is that planets should be distinguished from brown dwarfs on the basis of formation. It is widely thought that giant planets form through core accretion, which may sometimes produce planets with masses above the deuterium fusion threshold; massive planets of that sort may have already been observed.[28] Brown dwarfs form like stars from the direct collapse of clouds of gas and this formation mechanism also produces objects that are below the 13 MJup limit and can be as low as 1 MJup. Objects in this mass range that orbit their stars with wide separations of hundreds or thousands of AU and have large star/object mass ratios likely formed as brown dwarfs; their atmospheres would likely have a composition more similar to their host star than accretion-formed planets which would contain increased abundances of heavier elements. Most directly imaged planets as of April 2014 are massive and have wide orbits so probably represent the low-mass end of brown dwarf formation.

Also, the 13-Jupiter-mass cutoff does not have precise physical significance. Deuterium fusion can occur in some objects with a mass below that cutoff.[27] The amount of deuterium fused depends to some extent on the composition of the object.[31] The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia includes objects up to 25 Jupiter masses, saying, "The fact that there is no special feature around 13 MJup in the observed mass spectrum reinforces the choice to forget this mass limit".[32] The Exoplanet Data Explorer includes objects up to 24 Jupiter masses with the advisory: "The 13 Jupiter-mass distinction by the IAU Working Group is physically unmotivated for planets with rocky cores, and observationally problematic due to the sin i ambiguity."[33] The NASA Exoplanet Archive includes objects with a mass (or minimum mass) equal to or less than 30 Jupiter masses.[34] Another criterion for separating planets and brown dwarfs, rather than deuterium fusion, formation process or location, is whether the core pressure is dominated by coulomb pressure or electron degeneracy pressure with the dividing line at around 5 Jupiter masses.[35][36] Another suggestion, based on mass–density relationships, is that the dividing line should be at 60 Jupiter masses.[37]

History of detection[edit]
For centuries philosophers and scientists supposed that extrasolar planets existed, but there was no way of detecting them or of knowing their frequency or how similar they might be to the planets of the Solar System. Various detection claims made in the nineteenth century were rejected by astronomers. The first confirmed detection came in 1992, with the discovery of several terrestrial-mass planets orbiting the pulsar PSR B1257+12.[38] The first confirmation of an exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star was made in 1995, when a giant planet was found in a four-day orbit around the nearby star 51 Pegasi. Some exoplanets have been imaged directly by telescopes, but the vast majority have been detected through indirect methods such as the transit method and the radial-velocity method.

Early speculations[edit]
This space we declare to be infinite… In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own.

Giordano Bruno (1584)[39]
In the sixteenth century the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, an early supporter of the Copernican theory that Earth and other planets orbit the Sun (heliocentrism), put forward the view that the fixed stars are similar to the Sun and are likewise accompanied by planets.

In the eighteenth century the same possibility was mentioned by Isaac Newton in the "General Scholium" that concludes his Principia. Making a comparison to the Sun's planets, he wrote "And if the fixed stars are the centers of similar systems, they will all be constructed according to a similar design and subject to the dominion of One."[40]

In 1952, more than 40 years before the first hot Jupiter was discovered, Otto Struve wrote that there is no compelling reason why planets could not be much closer to their parent star than is the case in the Solar System, and proposed that Doppler spectroscopy and the transit method could detect super-Jupiters in short orbits.[41]

Discredited claims[edit]
Claims of exoplanet detections have been made since the nineteenth century. Some of the earliest involve the binary star 70 Ophiuchi. In 1855 Capt. W. S. Jacob at the East India Company's Madras Observatory reported that orbital anomalies made it "highly probable" that there was a "planetary body" in this system.[42] In the 1890s, Thomas J. J. See of the University of Chicago and the United States Naval Observatory stated that the orbital anomalies proved the existence of a dark body in the 70 Ophiuchi system with a 36-year period around one of the stars.[43] However, Forest Ray Moulton published a paper proving that a three-body system with those orbital parameters would be highly unstable.[44] During the 1950s and 1960s, Peter van de Kamp of Swarthmore College made another prominent series of detection claims, this time for planets orbiting Barnard's Star.[45] Astronomers now generally regard all the early reports of detection as erroneous.[46]

In 1991 Andrew Lyne, M. Bailes and S. L. Shemar claimed to have discovered a pulsar planet in orbit around PSR 1829-10, using pulsar timing variations.[47] The claim briefly received intense attention, but Lyne and his team soon retracted it.[48]

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License