Worlds Unnumbered: The Search for Extrasolar PlanetsCode: LEV0180
Auteurs: Donald Goldsmith , Jon Lomberg
Uitgever: University Science Books
Uitgegeven: February, 1997
Only a few years ago, astronomers were uncertain whether planets might orbit stars other than the sun. In the past few years, though, the experimental data has practically rushed in. In Worlds Unnumbered, Donald Goldsmith explains exactly how astronomers reached their conclusions, what their findings imply for the model that predicts formation of our own solar system, and whether the new findings give us any further data on the probability that life exists elsewhere in the universe (or its preponderance if it does). Goldsmith succeeds not only in describing the search for extrasolar planets, but also in conveying a feel for all the factors that contribute to the enormously complex, yet clock-like, motions of the bodies in the universe.
In this golden age of astronomy, new discoveries have proliferated in the past year: life on Mars, an ocean on Europa, and planets around other stars. On the heels of Goldsmith's The Hunt for Life on Mars comes this exciting account of the new planets. Because they cannot be seen, sophisticated methods are being utilized to study these planets, methods that Goldsmith cogently explains in terms of the instruments and reasoning used to claim a new discovery. The burning curiosity, of course, is whether the newcomers could support life: the answer is no; most are gigantic and too close to their stars, and an earth-size planet found orbiting a pulsar would obviously be a crispy critter. Such facts surprised astronomers, upsetting their favored theory of planet formation, possible revisions of which Goldsmith reports with the enthusiasm and clarity essential to popular works. Two dozen colorplates, some imagining the appearance of the new planets, gussy up a wonderful science acquisition for libraries