Exoplanets

“How big” is almost always an easier question to answer than “how old.” Though we can measure the sizes of animals and plants easily enough, we can often only guess at their ages. The same was long true of the cosmos. The ancient Greeks...

One of the biggest discoveries of humankind is yet to come: Finding compelling evidence for life on another planet. In this lecture, Hanno Rein, former Member (2010–13) in the School of Natural Sciences, discusses the many places to look for...

Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system1 was discovered in 1930, the same year the Institute was founded. While the Institute hosted more than five thousand members in the following sixty-five years, not a single new planet was...

Until a couple of decades ago, the only planets we knew existed were the nine in our Solar System. In the last twenty-five years, we’ve lost one of the local ones (Pluto, now classified as a “minor planet”) and gained about three thousand...

The desire to discover distant, rare, and strange objects dominated twentieth-century astronomy, for which increasingly larger and more sensitive telescopes were constructed. 

The act of carrying out this objective has brought enormous—and...

The stability of the solar system is one of the oldest problems in theoretical physics, dating back to Isaac Newton. After Newton discovered his famous laws of motion and gravity, he used these to determine the motion of a single planet around ...

Why is the expansion of the universe speeding up, instead of being slowed by the gravitational attraction of galaxies and dark matter? What is the history of the Milky Way galaxy and of the chemical elements in its stars? Why are the planetary...