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Extra-Solar Planets

One of the most exciting areas of research today is the search for planets outside our own Solar System. These are called extra-solar planets. Astronomers have so far found about 60, but this is increasing all the time. This is important for finding alien life because the most likely place to find life seems to be on a planet like our own. The more planets we find, the more likely we are to find life.

Extra-solar planets are mainly found by looking at how the stars move. If a star has a planet around it, it will wobble slightly as it moves. Astronomers can see this slight wobble by looking at the light coming from the star.

Another way is to try and take a picture of the planet by looking at the light that it reflects. This is very difficult because the star is much brighter than the planet going round it, so almost completely outshines it.



Planets Introduction

Mercury

Venus

Earth

The Moon

Mars

Jupiter

Saturn

Uranus

Neptune

Pluto

Asteroids

Comets

Meteorites



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Authors: Carolyn Brinkworth and Claire Thomas

Last updated: July 2001