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Extra-solar Planets and Planetary Science

Extrasolar planets are planets found outside our solar system. These planets are much fainter than the stars they orbit, and while they had widely been expected to exist, it has only been in the past quarter century that they have been observed. In the last decade the number of exoplanets discovered has increased dramatically with new techniques and there are now more than 4,000 exoplanets confirmed.

At Steward our exoplanet and planetary science projects explore the frequency and properties of the planet population around other stars. We are developing and using high-contrast imaging techniques to discover and study new exoplanets and we are using exoplanetary transits for detailed atmospheric composition studies. We carry out observations of our own solar system, including surveys to understand the demographics of asteroids and other faint solar system objects.

Faculty and Research Staff with a research interest in this area include:


"The exoplanet HD131399Ab (Scorpion-1) was discovered in 2016 using an extreme adaptive optics system by a team lead by Steward graduate student Kevin Wagner and assistant professor Daniel Apai. Scorpion-1 orbits in a three-star system.
Links: Science article (, UA News ( and ESO Press Release ("

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