Monday, January 20, 2014- Overview of exoplanets, and new tools for their discovery


Exoplanets are planets around stars other than the sun.  We now know about thousands of exoplanets or candidate exoplanets, owing to advances in technology and space telescopes.  The main space telescope used for discovery of exoplanets is the NASA Kepler satellite, which can indirectly detect the presence of exoplanets orbiting stellar systems through the transit technique.  There is building evidence that most stars have planets.  A new class of instruments employing "extreme adaptive optics" are emerging, and we highlight the Gemini Planet Imager's first light in November 2013.  Astronomer and guest DJ Timber helps elucidate the challenge of exoplanet detection, and what it all means.