“Born too late to explore Earth, born too early to explore the galaxy?” Not quite. Thirty-one years after the discovery of the first exoplanet, and 2,300 years since Epicurus waxed poetic about “the infinite number of the worlds,” we are privileged to live at the dawn of exoplanetary exploration. With missions and data aplenty, planets of all types and sizes are ripe for the picking everywhere we look. And with the advent of the James Webb Space Telescope, we can now analyze their atmospheres like never before. And more missions are yet to come!
As we play planetary detective with Lilliputian tools, the extrasolar systems we have found continue to surprise us in their diversity, exotic configurations, and differences to our own home planet. What have we learned? Are we the rule, or the exception? Come discover these remarkable systems, the instrumental biases we face, and how much we have learned about our place in the universe by looking outward.
Laura-May Abron is a French public astronomer, science communicator, and artist from Paris. She studied art at University of London and astrophysics at the Paris Observatory, has created and hosted multiple science shows, and currently works at Griffith Observatory. Her science art has been featured by NASA, New Scientist, and galleries internationally. In her free time, she chases tornadoes, sunspots, auroras, volcanoes, and eclipses.