ann1028 — Announcement

Exoplanets – press kit

23 June 2010

A press kit about exoplanets is now available for download in PDF format.

Exoplanets (or extrasolar planets) are planets that orbit stars other than our Sun. While astronomers have long suspected their existence, it is only in the past two decades that we have been able to detect them, with much of this cutting edge work done at ESO.

This document explains in clear language:

  • Why exoplanets are so hard to detect, and what strategies astronomers have used to find them;
  • What these discoveries can tell us about the origins of our own Solar System and how the Earth was formed;
  • How ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has allowed scientists to obtain the first image of an exoplanet;
  • How the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope is the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter; and
  • How future research could one day let us discover whether there is life on other planets.

The kit also contains a timeline of recent achievements in exoplanet research at ESO and details of the instruments currently used on ESO telescopes for this work.

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