A Place For Innovation

A pioneer in the exoplanet field, Carnegie's Paul Butler designed and built the iodine absorption cell system that was responsible for the discovery of five of the first six known extrasolar planets.


Pushing Boundaries

Carnegie's Scott Sheppard keeps pushing boundaries of our Solar System, three times finding the most-distant object orbiting our Sun. He also led the team that first proposed the existence of a mysterious Planet X lurking on the system's outermost fringe.

Discovering New Worlds

Our planetary scientists have been looking for and discovering exoplanets since before they were the hottest field in astronomy.

Since Carnegie astronomer Paul Butler confirmed the existence of the first extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like in 1995, scientists have found more than 4,300 planets orbiting stars other than our own. It turns out that most of these planetary systems look very different from ours.

Carnegie scientists are at the vanguard of the effort to characterize exoplanet atmospheres and understand what their compositions can teach us about the processes by which they formed and evolved. This could reveal why our Solar System looks so different.

Carnegie astronomers also cross disciplinary boundaries and partner with geophysicists to investigate the forces that shape the interiors of distant worlds and understand how these dynamics could affect their potential for habitability.

Cross-disciplinary, Collaborative & Boundary Pushing:

Carnegie Experts Investigate the planets found in our Solar System, as well as those orbiting distant stars. 

Earth & Planets Laboratory

EPL astronomers aim to discover and understand solar and extrasolar planets through pioneering detection studies, observations of their nebular birthplaces, modeling of their formation and evolution, and using the detection of small bodies in the outer Solar System to understand the origin of our own planetary system.

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Artists rendering of a young star in space, with a cloudy ring of material surrounding it.



Exoplanet science at the Carnegie Observatories exists at an especially exciting nexus of theoretical astrophysics, observational astronomy, and instrument development.

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