Planet populations in the Milky Way and beyond

Martin Dominik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Only about 15 years ago, speculations probably as old as mankind itself about the existence of planets orbiting stars other than the Sun turned into evidence. Recent technological advances make it now possible to find planets at separations from their host star that we consider suitable for life to form and evolve. However, we neither know the necessary nor the sufficient conditions. Even the detection of another planet teeming with life would signpost a beginning rather than an end. It would not answer the deeper questions of the origin and (maybe more importantly) future of our existence. In order to understand our own role in the cosmos, we need to investigate our context, which not only contains habitable planets similar to ours, but comprises the full amazing diversity of the planetary zoo. A comprehensive picture will only arise from complementary evidence provided by several applied planet detection techniques. The most curious effect of gravitational microlensing plays a special role with its capability for inferring a census of planets within the Milky Way, involving different stellar populations, with a sensitivity reaching down to the mass of the Moon, and even in neighbouring galaxies such as M31. (c) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume78
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

Keywords

  • Extra-solar planets
  • Gravitational lensing
  • General relativity
  • Extra-terrestrial life
  • EXTRA-SOLAR PLANETS
  • GALACTIC BULGE STARS
  • MAIN-SEQUENCE STARS
  • HARPS SEARCH
  • SUPER-EARTHS
  • GRAVITATIONAL LENS
  • HABITABLE ZONES
  • MASS
  • SYSTEMS
  • DISCOVERY

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