|Detecting Other Worlds: The Photometric Transit or 'Wink' Method
Its fortunate for exobiologists and those who study circumstellar habitable zones that most stars do not much vary in their brightness. One particular brightness variationa sort of "wink" of the starprovides the only present means for detecting and studying Earth-sized extrasolar planets. This is known as the photometric transit method, and it relies upon a planet orbiting across the disc of its parent star in our line of sight.
|Detecting Other Worlds: The Wobble Method
Almost all of them have been discovered using what can be colloquially called the "wobble method." This is an indirect method, which means the presence of a planet is inferred -- in this case, by a planet's effect on the star it orbits.
|Kepler Mission: Detecting Earth-sized planets
The Kepler Mission has a simple objective: find small planets around other stars - worlds like Earth that could possibly spawn life. It promises to be one of the most exciting astronomy projects of the coming decade.
|Symphony of New Planets
One of the fundamental premises of all SETI science is that inhabitable worlds are not rare. This assumption has garnered plenty of indirect support during the last five years as astronomers have finally succeeded in finding planets that orbit ordinary (and nearby) stars.