Exoplanets : hidden worlds and the quest for extraterrestrial life / Donald Goldsmith. Goldsmith, Donald, author.
Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2018.
254 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Using a variety of innovative techniques, astronomers have recently discovered thousands of planets that orbit stars throughout our Milky Way galaxy. Donald Goldsmith presents the science of exoplanets and the search for extraterrestrial life in a way that Earthlings with little background in astronomy or astrophysics can understand and enjoy. Much of what has captured the imagination of planetary scientists and the public at large is the unexpected strangeness of these distant worlds, which bear little resemblance to the planets in our solar system. The sizes, masses, and orbits of exoplanets detected so far raise new, unanswered questions about how planets form and evolve. Still more tantalizing are the efforts to determine which exoplanets might support life. Astronomers are steadily improving their means of examining planets' atmospheres and surfaces, with the help of advanced spacecraft sent into orbits a million miles from Earth to obtain finer views of the cosmos. These instruments will provide better observations of planetary systems in orbit around the dim red stars that throng the Milky Way. Previously spurned as too faint to support life, these cool stars turn out to possess myriad planets that nestle sufficiently close to maintain Earthlike temperatures. The quest to find other worlds brims with possibility. Exoplanets shows how astronomers have already broadened our planetary horizons, and tells us what may come next, including the ultimate discovery: life beyond our home planet.