Hot Jupiters and Cold Nomads
The exoplanet research is advancing rapidly. Almost 1000 exoplanets are now known. Completely new and strange types of worlds have been discovered. Many of them are Hot Jupiters, i.e. giant planets that are located very close to their parent stars. Other may be ocean planets which have all-covering oceans which can be hundreds or thousands of kilometres deep. The by far coldest ones are the nomad planets, which move in the interstellar space without belonging to any star at all.
It is astoundingly much information that can be extracted from the normally very faint light that the astronomers have to work with. Nevertheless, one should keep in mind that artistic visualisations (like the one above) have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Basically, there are two types of measurements that can be made; photometric and spectroscopic. Using photometry you can measure very small changes in the light of the parent star. With spectroscopy a detailed analysis of various wavelengths in the light of the parent star are made. But then you need more light to begin with, in order to be able to measure anything. With the giant telescopes that now are being constructed spectroscopy will be made in much greater detail and for much fainter light sources.
Exoplanets affect astrology!
Groundbreaking research in astrology indicates that the existence of numerous exoplanets affect destinies of men and mankind! In the recent paper "Astrology in the Era of Exoplanets", published in "Acta Prima Aprilia", Michael B. Lund points out that the current polarisation of US politics may well be explained by the astrological influence from certain exoplpanets!
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.
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.