The Exoplanet Gold Rush

The discovery and study of exoplanets, or planets in other solar systems, is one of the newest sub-fields of astronomy. The reason for this is that, prior to the mid 1990’s, we didn’t really have the technology to find these planets. Through various means, the discovery of exoplanets has taken off at an exponential rate in the last twenty years and the number of known exoplanets now sits at about 2000. The following graphic, created by University of Warwick PHD student Hugh Osborn shows the rapidly accelerating rate at which we discover exoplanets as well as their mass, orbital period and means of discovery.

The following chart explains the colors of the exoplanets on the graphic.

Color Detection Method
Dark blue Solar System Planets
Light blue Radial Velocity
Maroon Direct Imaging
Orange Microlensing
Green Transits

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