The Search for Another Earth
Is there life anywhere else in the vast cosmos?Are there planets similar to the Earth? For centuries,these questions baffled curious minds. Eithera positive or negative answer, if found oneday, would carry a deep philosophical significancefor our very existence in the universe. Althoughthe search for extra-terrestrial intelligence wasinitiated decades ago, a systematic scientific andglobal quest towards achieving a convincing answerbegan in 1995 with the discovery of the firstconfirmed planet orbiting around the solar-typestar 51 Pegasi. Since then, astronomers have discoveredmany exoplanets using two main techniques,radial velocity and transit measurements.In the first part of this article, we shall describethe different astronomical methods through whichthe extrasolar planets of various kinds are discovered.In the second part of the article we shalldiscuss the various kinds of exoplanets, in particularabout the habitable planets discovered tilldate and the present status of our search for ahabitable planet similar to the Earth.
Volume 27 | Issue 6