Chapter 21 The Birth of Stars and the Discovery of Planets outside the Solar System

21.7 For Further Exploration


Star Formation

Blaes, O. “A Universe of Disks.” Scientific American (October 2004): 48. On accretion disks and jets around young stars and black holes.

Croswell, K. “The Dust Belt Next Door [Tau Ceti].” Scientific American (January 2015): 24. Short intro to recent observations of planets and a wide dust belt.

Frank, A. “Starmaker: The New Story of Stellar Birth.” Astronomy (July 1996): 52.

Jayawardhana, R. “Spying on Stellar Nurseries.” Astronomy (November 1998): 62. On protoplanetary disks.

O’Dell, C. R. “Exploring the Orion Nebula.” Sky & Telescope (December 1994): 20. Good review with Hubble results.

Ray, T. “Fountains of Youth: Early Days in the Life of a Star.” Scientific American (August 2000): 42. On outflows from young stars.

Young, E. “Cloudy with a Chance of Stars.” Scientific American (February 2010): 34. On how clouds of interstellar matter turn into star systems.

Young, Monica “Making Massive Stars.” Sky & Telescope (October 2015): 24. Models and observations on how the most massive stars form.


Billings, L. “In Search of Alien Jupiters.” Scientific American (August 2015): 40–47. The race to image jovian planets with current instruments and why a direct image of a terrestrial planet is still in the future.

Heller, R. “Better Than Earth.” Scientific American (January 2015): 32–39. What kinds of planets may be habitable; super-Earths and jovian planet moons should also be considered.

Laughlin, G. “How Worlds Get Out of Whack.” Sky & Telescope (May 2013): 26. On how planets can migrate from the places they form in a star system.

Marcy, G. “The New Search for Distant Planets.” Astronomy (October 2006): 30. Fine brief overview. (The same issue has a dramatic fold-out visual atlas of extrasolar planets, from that era.)

Redd, N. “Why Haven’t We Found Another Earth?” Astronomy (February 2016): 25. Looking for terrestrial planets in the habitable zone with evidence of life.

Seager, S. “Exoplanets Everywhere.” Sky & Telescope (August 2013): 18. An excellent discussion of some of the frequently asked questions about the nature and arrangement of planets out there.

Seager, S. “The Hunt for Super-Earths.” Sky & Telescope (October 2010): 30. The search for planets that are up to 10 times the mass of Earth and what they can teach us.

Villard, R. “Hunting for Earthlike Planets.” Astronomy (April 2011): 28. How we expect to find and characterize super-Earth (planets somewhat bigger than ours) using new instruments and techniques that could show us what their atmospheres are made of.


Exoplanet Exploration: . PlanetQuest (from the Navigator Program at the Jet Propulsion Lab) is probably the best site for students and beginners, with introductory materials and nice illustrations; it focuses mostly on NASA work and missions.

Exoplanets: Planetary Society’s exoplanets pages with a dynamic catalog of planets found and good explanations.

Exoplanets: The Search for Planets beyond Our Solar System: . From the British Institute of Physics in 2010.

Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia: . Maintained by Jean Schneider of the Paris Observatory, has the largest catalog of planet discoveries and useful background material (some of it more technical).

Formation of Stars: . Star Formation page from the Hubble Space Telescope, with links to images and information.

Kepler Mission: The public website for the remarkable telescope in space that is searching planets using the transit technique and is our best hope for finding earthlike planets.

Proxima Centauri Planet Discovery:


Exoplanet:  Allows you to browse through a regularly updated visual catalog of exoplanets that have been found so far.

Journey to the Exoplanets: . (Not available in Canada as of 2019) Produced by the staff of Scientific American, with input from scientists and space artists; gives background information and visual tours of the nearer star systems with planets.


A Star Is Born: (Not available in Canada) Discovery Channel video with astronomer Michelle Thaller (2:25).

Are We Alone: An Evening Dialogue with the Kepler Mission Leaders: A non-technical panel discussion on Kepler results and ideas about planet formation with Bill Borucki, Natalie Batalha, and Gibor Basri (moderated by Andrew Fraknoi) at the University of California, Berkeley (2:07:01).

Finding the Next Earth: The Latest Results from Kepler: . Natalie Batalha (San Jose State University & NASA Ames) public talk in the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series (1:28:38).


From Hot Jupiters to Habitable Worlds: (Part 1) and (Part 2). Debra Fischer (Yale University) public talk in Hawaii sponsored by the Keck Observatory (15:20 Part 1, 21:32 Part 2).


Search for Habitable Exoplanets: . Sara Seeger (MIT) public talk at the SETI Institute, with Kepler results (1:10:35).


Strange Planetary Vistas: . Josh Carter (CfA) public talk at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics with a friendly introduction to exoplanets for non-specialists (46:35).



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Douglas College Astronomy 1105 by Douglas College Department of Physics and Astronomy, Open Stax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.