Interest in Exoplanetary Systems
Date: Summer 2012
Planetary systems around distant stars have been discovered. Why are they interest to us?
Your question opens up a whole galaxy of questions and interests! Locating exoplanetary systems are an example of research for the far future. They are of interest to us because of the similarity to our own planetary system, the promise of raw materials and possibility of life. There is interest in the life cycle of a system: What is the future of our Solar System? Are there clues out there that we should be watching for in the maturation of ours? As we learn how to explore outside our system, how will we replenish raw materials for space flight and possible colonization?There is interest in life. Is there anybody out there?
Exoplanetary systems are currently being researched using the Kepler Observatory. Here is an article concerning 5 very promising exoplanets that will be further researched for possible life as we know it.
For the Kepler Observatory, go to: http://kepler.nasa.gov/ . There you will be able to watch as these systems are being researched and if you wish, conduct your own research by analyzing data using http://keplergo.arc.nasa.gov/ . This is a rare opportunity for anyone to examine the local cosmos with each person's unique viewpoint. I have been enjoying analyzing data from the Kepler photometer array. Feel free to look at these data sets, there is a tutorial and examples to get you started. The more people study these, the more we we learn!
Deep in the North Carolina woods, at four years old, I looked up, realized there was something out there and the desire to be out there never left me. This is intensely exciting research.
Keep looking up! Peter E. Hughes, Ph.D. Milford, NH
My guess is that distant planets are of interest to different people because of each person’s different interests.
Some of the reasons could be:
The distant planets might be a future destination when the Earth becomes unlivable
The fact (once that fact is established) that there are other Earth-like planets may indicate that there is intelligent life on planets other than our own.
And I think you can probably add some other reasons to this list.
The main reason is that extra-solar planets can teach us about our
own world. We now know of hundreds of planets, and each one has
something to say. It is a fascinating field.
David H. Levy
Let us reverse the question. Why should they not be of interest to us? One “practical” reason. Suppose there are creatures on these exoplanets waving to us?
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Update: December 2011