Just five more exoplanets to top the number discovered in 2009

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A record 83 exoplanets were discovered last year, but the number this year will easily surpass that. A week or so ago the exoplanets discovery method graph on Wikipedia was updated, and now it looks like this:

77 so far this year, so the 2009 number should be surpassed in September or October. I haven't written on the most recent exoplanet discoveries (such as this one called HD 10180, a solar system similar to our own in a way) because 1) there are too many exoplanets to write about, and 2) we haven't found the holy grail yet, an Earth-like exoplanet in a star's habitable zone. Nor have WISE's expected brown dwarfs in close proximity to us been announced yet; that is expected to take place in February, assuming they are there. Those are the two discoveries that will make a permanent change to the way we see space.

What continued non-Earthlike exoplanet discoveries do help out with, though, is a refining of the Drake equation, as the more systems like HD 10180 we find the more likely it is that ours is a typical formation for a solar system, and if so we will be able to more easily guess at the number of possible habitable/inhabited planets in the galaxy, and the universe.

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