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Extrasolar Planets: January 2021


In the search for life in the cosmos, NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission has already monitored about 74% of the sky for transiting extrasolar planets, including potentially habitable worlds.

A critical question in astrobiology is whether exoEarth candidates (EECs) are Earth-like, in that they originate life that progressively oxygenates their atmospheres similarly to Earth. We propose answering this question statistically by searching for O2 and O3 on EECs with missions such as HabEx or LUVOIR.

A number of transiting, potentially habitable Earth-sized exoplanets have recently been detected around several nearby M dwarf stars. These worlds represent important targets for atmospheric characterization for the upcoming NASA James Webb Space Telescope.

No circumbinary planets have been discovered smaller than 3 Earth radii, yet planets of this small size comprise over 75% of the discoveries around single stars.

Exoplanetary science continues to excite and surprise with its rich diversity. We discuss here some key aspects potentially influencing the range of exoplanetary terrestrial-type atmospheres which could exist in nature.