More than 5,000 exoplanets detected in 30 years, and this is only the beginning

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[EN VIDÉO] Proxima b, our closest exoplanet!
It is the only known planet that orbits Proxima Centauri, a star located in Alpha Centauri. This system is closest to our Solar System, “only” 4,244 light-years from us.

For millennia we thought we had planets Solar System specifically. If in the minds of many thinkers there has been a search for another world and astronomersThe first exoplanet was discovered only in October 1995 by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, earning them this honor. Nobel Prize in Physics in 2019. Today, NASA announced that the total number of exoplanets discovered since 1995 has risen to more than 5,000.

The discovery of all of these worlds outside our system has inspired the entire scientific community and continues to attract public opinion, among them a possible other Earth, a planet that may harbor extraterrestrial life or even other civilizations. can provide shelter. But scientists are primarily interested in better understanding of all these new worlds of ours.

Many programs have been developed to explore as many of them as possible and get more information about them. Given their numbers, the study of exoplanets can sometimes be a matter of statistics. It helps us to learn more about the formation of systems, planets and favorable conditions to support life.

fleet of dedicated space telescopes

For this many space telescopes have been developed. most well known Telescope American Kepler Who discovered 2,662 exoplanets on his own in less than ten years. Today is the turn of the telescope tess ,Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), NASA, to trace the passage of exoplanets before them Star, This is the mode of transit, i.e. the study of Glow of a star when the planet passes in front of it. You can get a lot of information from it, including its size, its MassHis period of revolutionits position relative to the star, and sometimes even some information about it Atmosphere, This is the main method used.

Several telescopes are planned to continue the study. even titanic James Webb Space Telescope To be able to give a chemical composition, the atmosphere would be used to capture light. to NASA, is still Nancy Roman Space Telescope to which it will be dedicated. It is planned to launch in 2027. On the European side, it is aerial space telescope Which is to be sent in 2029, and is dedicated to the study of exoplanetary atmospheres.

In the end, the largest bank of potential exoplanets remains: the Catalog of Gaia Mission, Nearly two billion stars have been filtered out by space telescope Since 2013, 80,000 billion terabytes of data contain an immeasurable number of possible planets. Space telescopes and professional observatories are not in sufficient numbers; Many observations are needed to confirm the existence of an exoplanet and register it among 5,000 others. This is where amateur astronomers have opportunity to collaborate For this titanic work.

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a great variety

What are all these exoplanets? First, 30% of them are gas giant, The main reason for this is that they are easy to detect. But it often happens that a second star tries to form in a system but doesn’t leave enough of the first one. Case For this. We speak of “failed stars”.

35% of the genus are also exoplanets Neptuneequal size, often frozen, even though some of them are hot neptune, then 31% super earthPlanets that can be between the size of Earth and Neptune, but are not necessarily planets Solid, The remaining 4% are Earth-sized, in other words… small, so difficult to detect.

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