A comprehensive introduction to the thousands of newly discovered planets beyond our solar system, which are beautiful and mind-bending in their diversity—and those are just the ones we know of.
Though astronomers had long predicted that there were other solar systems out there, only in the past decade has satellite telescope technology been able to confirm the existence of an enormous number of exoplanets, “planets outside our solar system. Even more significant than their abundance is their diversity, and even more astonishing than their diversity is, in some cases, their very existence—many of these worlds defy what scientists thought they knew about what was possible about how planets form and behave. Planetary scientist Summers (Physics and Astronomy/George Mason Univ.), who has been a member of multiple NASA mission teams, and Trefil (Physics/George Mason Univ.; Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond, 2016, etc.) take readers on an exhilarating tour of the universe as we now know it. In a series of chapters that detail a variety of recently detected planets, the authors provide both a history of exoplanet discovery and a look toward the future of the field (which just may bear fruit in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence). “If there really are rogue planets floating around just outside the solar systems,” they write, then perhaps “multigenerational starships…won’t be needed to reach them.” These otherworldly planets are dizzying in scope and are a wonderful feast for the imagination, even as the authors back up their imagery with the latest research findings. Also included are a number of photographs and illustrations that provide a welcome visual accompaniment to the lay-friendly text.
Space enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy this exploration into the farthest reaches of the universe and the cutting edge of astronomical research.