Exoplanet Project

500 Planets (click on the image to display a larger version).
Credit: Martin Vargic

Until recently, we only knew of the planets in our Solar System. We thought that there would be planets in orbit around other stars, but we had not found any. That all changed in 1992 when the first exoplanet was detected. It was found in orbit around the pulsar PSR 1257+12. 

Since then, more than 5,000 exoplanets have been discovered! For each new world, we can add to the huge database of knowledge. We do so by measuring, calculating, or inferring their properties. This helps us identify places that might be able to support life!

This project uses the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. A free online resource which contains real data from more than 4000 exoplanets. You will use the various options to create charts and graphs. You will then look for trends or patterns in the data. This will help you understand what we know so far about these extra-solar worlds.

By the end of the project you will:

  • Have used software to view and explore real data
  • Know the various properties of exoplanets
  • Be able to confidently look for patterns and trends in a large data set
  • Have considered any bias in the data or assumptions you have made

Use the items in the menu to:

  1. Explore the properties of exoplanets
  2. Learn about the history of hunting for exoplanets
  3. Learn about the different ways used to find them
  4. Read through the instructions and resources

You will then be ready to use your knowledge to investigate exoplanets!