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The Stellar Side of The Exoplanet Story

1 Dec 2016, 14:15 UTC
The Stellar Side of The Exoplanet Story NASA/JPL-Caltech
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

K2-33b, shown in this illustration, is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date. It makes a complete orbit around its star in about five days, and as a result its characteristics are very much determined by its host. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
When it comes to the study of exoplanets, it’s common knowledge that the host stars don’t get much respect.
Yes, everyone knows that there wouldn’t be exoplanets without stars, and that they serve as the essential background for exoplanet transit observations and as he wobbling object that allows for radial velocity measurements that lead to new exoplanets discoveries.
But stars in general have been seen and studied for ever, while the first exoplanet was identified only 20-plus years ago. So it’s inevitable that host stars have generally take a back seat to the compelling newly-found exoplanets that orbit them.
As the field of exoplanet studies moves forward, however, and tries to answer questions about the characteristics of the planets and their odds of being habitable, the perceived importance of the host stars is on the rise.
The logic: Stars control space weather, and those conditions produce a space climate that is conducive or not so conducive to habitability and life.

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