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Books & Authors


On February 22, 2017, NASA announced the discovery of Trappist-1, a system of seven exoplanets—planets outside the solar system. Never before have so many Earth-like exoplanets been discovered orbiting a single star. In light of this momentous discovery, why not learn more about the scientific search for exoplanets?

 Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System by Michael Summers and James Trefil

Since its 2009 launch, the Kepler satellite has discovered more than two thousand exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. More remarkable than the sheer number of exoplanets is their variety: planets revolving around pulsars, planets made of diamond, planets that are mostly water, and numerous rogue planets wandering through the emptiness of space. This captivating book reveals the latest discoveries and argues that the incredible richness and complexity we are finding necessitates a change in how we think about the universe and our place in it, because it is stranger and more interesting than we could have imagined.

 Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhan

Only in the past two decades, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars—thousands, in fact. Now they are closer than ever to unraveling distant twins of the Earth. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He provides an insider's look at the cutting-edge science of today's planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.

 Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Some of these exoplanets may be mirror images of our own world, and more are being found all the time. Yet as the pace of discovery quickens, an answer to the universe's greatest riddle still remains just out of reach—Is the great silence and emptiness of the cosmos a sign that we and are our world are somehow singular, special, and profoundly alone, or does it just mean that we're looking for life in all the wrong places? Science journalist Lee Billings explores the past and future of the 'exoplanet boom' through in-depth reporting and interviews with the astronomers and planetary scientists at its forefront.

 The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets by Alan Boss

We are nearing a turning point in our quest for life in the universe: we now have the capacity to detect Earth-like planets around other stars. But will we find any? Renowned astronomer Alan Boss argues that based on what we already know about planetary systems, in the coming years we will find abundant Earths, including many that are indisputably alive. Boss describes how our ideas about planetary formation have changed radically in the past decade and brings readers up to date on discoveries of bizarre inhabitants of various solar systems, including our own.

 The Life of Super-Earths by Dimitar Sasselov

Author and astronomer Dimitar Sasselov takes us on a hunt for habitable planets and alien life forms. He shows how the search for "super-Earths"—rocky planets like our own that orbit other stars—may provide the key to answering essential questions about the origins of life here and elsewhere. That is, if we don't find the answers to those questions here first.  Sasselov tells the gripping story of a moment of unprecedented potential--a convergence of pioneering efforts in astronomy and biology to peer into the unknown.

 Mirror Earth: The Search for Our Planet's Twin by Michael D. Lemonick

In the 1990s, astronomers made history when they detected three planets orbiting stars in the Milky Way. More than 500 planets have been found since then, yet none of them could support life. Now, armed with more powerful technology, planet hunters are racing to find a true twin of Earth. Science writer Michael Lemonick has unique access to these exoplaneteers, as they call themselves, and Mirror Earth unveils their passionate quest. Unlike those in other races, the competing scientists actually consult and cooperate with one another. But only one will be the first to find Earth's twin.


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