Is our existence the result of a series of improbable events and circumstances?
Are there other planets similar to Earth?
Can we travel to another star?
Are we alone in the universe – and if so, why?
Or can we communicate with an extraterrestrial civilisation – and do we want to?
These are exciting questions that are discussed – and to some extent answered – in my book "The Hunt For Alien LIfe – A Wider Perspective", which was published by Springer, New York in Jan 2016.
The site contains background material in the form of links, news streams, literature recommendations and other relevant material.
Several of the fields discussed are developing very rapidly – especially the one concerning exoplanet research. Almost daily new discoveries are made, some of those findings are presented and discussed here.
Every chapter in the book has a counterpart on this web site. Each has a small introduction and news items. You are most welcome to enter comments in the commentary fields. Additionally, there are a set of issues presented where you may express your own opinion by entering your votes in polls.
Churchill on exoplanets
In a recently discovered essay by Winston Churchill his thoughts on extraterrestrial life are revealed. In view of today's knowledge of the existence of exoplanets, they stand out as surprisingly correct and in line with current thinking.
A Ninth Planet?
Researchers have found indirect evidence of a ninth planet belonging to the solar system. Gravitional interactions in the Kuiper belt indicate the presence of a Neptune-sized body, located far away from the Sun. Currently based on mathematical simulations the planet can only be acknowledged if corroborated by direct observations.
Exoplanet With Volcanism?
For the first time heavy temperature variations have been observed for an exoplanet, possibly interpreted as powerful volcanic activity on the surface of the planet. The Spitzer space telescope has been taking a closer look at 55 Cancri e, a super-Earth part of a planetary system so far containing five discovered planets.
Exoplanets get names
The International Astronomical Union has for the first approved official names for a few exoplanets. Suitable names have been chosen from suggestions made by astronomy organisations all over the world. Among the new names are Dimidium, Orbitar and Taphao Thong.
SETI alive and kicking?
A major initiative to intensify SETI research is under way. Russian billionaire Yuri Milner spends $100 million during ten years to support monitoring a million of the stars closest to Earth, as well as the hundred nearest galaxies. Two of the world's largest radio telescopes, at the Parkes and Green Bank observatories, will be used.