A generation ago, the idea of a planet orbiting a distant star was still in the realm of science fiction. But since the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1988, we’ve found hundreds of them, with the discoveries coming at a faster rate over time.
This year, in a single announcement, NASA astronomers revealed the discovery of 715 previously unknown planets in data collected by the Kepler Space Telescope, bringing the total number of known exoplanets to 1771. Within this are all sorts of exoplanets: some that orbit two stars, some that are full of water, some that are roughly Earth-sized and some that are more than twice as big as Jupiter.
But the vast majority of all these distant planets have one thing in common—with a few exceptions, they’re too far away for us to see, even with our most powerful telescopes. If that’s the case, how do astronomers know they’re there?
Minute Physics provides an educational video in which they explain how to find an exoplanet. So, enjoy this video.
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