XOplanets logo

What Are Exoplanets?

According to NASA, “An exoplanet is any planet beyond our solar system. Most orbit stars, but free-floating exoplanets, called rogue planets, orbit the galactic center and are not tethered to any star.” With the advances in space telescope technology and the previous deployment of the Kepler Telescope, we now know that there are more planets than stars in the galaxy. By measuring exoplanets’ sizes in diameters and masses, planets emerge with compositions from very rocky (like Earth and Venus) to very gaseous, like Jupiter and Saturn. Some exoplanets may be dominated by water or ice. Others will be primarily iron or carbon. NASA claims that they have, “Identified lava worlds covered in molten seas, puffy planets the density of Styrofoam and dense cores of planets still orbiting their stars.”

Learn more - https://exoplanets.nasa.gov

More about Exoplanets - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZOhJe_7GrE

"Sounds of Exoplanet Discovery – NASA Data Sonification" - https://youtu.be/yv4DbU1CWAY

The Science of Exoplanets

Want to know more about exoplanets? Read on. We’ve got you covered.

Different types of Exoplanets: Gas Giant, Neptunian, Super-Earth, Terrestrial

Exoplanet Detection Methods: The first exoplanet was confirmed in 1992 and at this time, 5171 exoplanets have been confirmed and are listed with NASA’s Exoplanet Catalog. There are five detection methods for discovering exoplanets. Transit, Radial Velocity, Direct Imaging, Microlensing and Astrometry. The Transit Method has by far, led to the discovery and confirmation of most of the exoplanets. Transit Photometry is a method that measures the light curve of distant stars for periodic dips in brightness. These dips are the result of exoplanets passing in front of the star. These changes in brightness are characterized by very small dips for fixed periods of time: only for a matter of hours. But these changes are periodic and cause the same dips in brightness each time and for the same amount of time.

What is the ‘Tess Method’ of Discovery? The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched in April, 2018 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Its primary mission is to survey 200,000 of the brightest stars to search for transiting exoplanets.

According to NASA, “TESS will create a catalog of thousands of exoplanet candidates using this transit photometry method. After this list has been compiled, the TESS mission will conduct ground-based follow-up observations to confirm that the exoplanet candidates are true exoplanets and not false positives.”

“These ground-based telescopes will collaborate with other ground-based telescopes to measure the masses of the planets. Using the known planet size, orbit and mass, TESS and ground-based follow-up will be able to determine the planets’ compositions. This will reveal whether the planets are rocky (like Earth), gas giants (like Jupiter) or something even more unusual.”

“Additional follow-up with ground and space-based missions, including NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will also allow astronomers to study the atmospheres of many of these planets.”

If Astronomers can’t see Exoplanets, how much do we really know? When combined with the Radial Velocity method, which can determine the planet’s mass, astronomers can determine the density of the planet. Furthermore, they are able to assess the planet’s physical structure and composition. In effect, whether it is a gas giant or rocky planet. Transit Photometry can also allow for a planet’s atmosphere to be scanned through spectroscopy. As light from the star passes through the planet’s atmosphere, the resulting spectra can be analyzed to determine what elements are present. This provides data regarding the chemical composition of the atmosphere. When visiting the Gallery section of this website, you can see the various types of metadata that have been collected for each XOplanet.

What Is the ‘Habitable’ Zone? The definition of ‘habitable zone’ is the distance from a star at which liquid water
could exist on orbiting planets’ surfaces. Habitable zones are also known as Goldilocks’ zones, where conditions
might be just right — neither too hot nor too cold — for life. A planet’s habitability is dependent on its surface
temperature and the amount of moisture in its atmosphere. ( Source: NASA)

The TRAPPIST treasure trove of seven exoplanets located in the Aquarius constellation have been
the focus of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for several weeks, according to NASA
astrobiologist, Shawn Domagal-Goldman. In an August 2022 article written by Newsweek’s science
reporter, Ed Browne, Domagal-Goldman indicates that these seven planets are almost perfect targets
to search for signs of life.

One reason is that planets inside the habitable zone have to be large enough to hold onto their atmospheres since the greater the mass means more gravity and these seven, rocky siblings meet this criteria. For example, TRAPPIST-1 g is significantly larger than Earth but less dense, which indicates that it probably contains water.

The JWST is searching for bio signatures that we have on Earth; especially oxygen and ozone from plants and algae. These are great indicators of life because these gases are much less likely to be produced by non-biological processes.

These planets are named after the TRAPPIST project, which detected the star. The acronym is: Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope.

These are the seven planets... on their way to becoming ‘stars’ in the world of XOplanet NFTs.

Within the Newsweek article, Domagal-Goldman expressed, “For exploration of potentially habitable worlds, the question of whether the TRAPPIST planets in the habitable zone have atmospheres is the most important scientific question or observation that anyone’s going to be doing, with JWST or any other facility, probably for the next five or ten years.”


What Are Rogue Planets?

Almost every planet orbits a star. But there are many planets that do not. Instead, they drift through the emptiness of interstellar space. These planets are called rogue planets and finding them and confirming them is extremely difficult. In fact, there are only two rogue planets that NASA has confirmed and they are not included within their Exoplanet Catalog. They’re classifying them as a separate category. All of the exoplanets in the catalog, have a host: almost always a star.

According to World Atlas, “It is very unlikely that rogue planets formed in interstellar space, temperatures are simply too cold for material to coalesce into a planet, and the lack of a star makes it difficult for material to group together. Every rogue planet likely began its life around a star along with other planets. During the formation of a solar system, things are very chaotic. Although most solar systems generally contain less than ten planets, as many as a hundred planets can form during the formation of a solar system.”

“Most of the forming planets will collide with and absorb one another, increasing their overall size and reducing the total number of planets. Some of the forming planets, however, will be flung out of their solar system entirely. This can occur in a number of ways. First, a planet can be gravitationally sling-shotted by its parent star out of the solar system. Second, other planets can gravitationally slingshot the planet out of the solar system. Third, a planetary collision can send a planet on a trajectory that flings it out of a solar system. Every solar system has likely produced rogue planets.”

Are There Any Exoplanets Beyond The Milky Way?

All of the confirmed exoplanets to date have been found within the Milky Way Galaxy. Exoplanets located in another galaxy are referred to as extragalactic planets. There are a few planets that have been identified in other galaxies but none of them have been confirmed. Nola Labs believes that this will soon change because of the successful launch and deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

Would you like to own the first extragalactic planet that is confirmed by NASA and is added to their official, Exoplanet Catalog? If so, stay tuned, read our news we will add to the website and look for Tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts because Nola Labs will be releasing, for sale and/or auction, new XOplanets soon after they are confirmed and the planet- specific artwork has been created.

How will The James Webb Telescope expand the hunt for Planets? During its first year of operation, NASA will have the JWST spending 25% of its time peering into the skies of exoplanets. With its NIRISS instrument (Near-Infrared Imager and Slitlesss Spectrograph), JWST will be using its SOSS (Single-Object Slitless Spectroscopy), to study exoplanets. By de-focusing the star, the bright light spreads across pixels so that the effects of the relatively tiny planet can be observed. JWST will work with ground-based telescopes to discover new exoplanets, as well, and to learn about their mass using the radial velocity method. This remarkable telescope will also be able to directly image some exoplanets using a technique called coronagraphy. With NIRISS, the JWST has the power to characterize the atmospheres of exoplanets. In exquisite detail, JWST will potentially be able to confirm habitable planets. Source: NASA

Has Life Been found on any Exoplanet? not yet

Do Some Exoplanets Contain Water or Oceans? Yes

Miscellaneous Facts for XOplanet Fans - Source: NASA

  • One light minute is 11,160,000 miles
  • There are 277 XOplanets with host stars visible to the naked eye
  • In our solar system, Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus are terrestrial, or rocky planets. Exoplanets, twice the size of Earth and larger, may be rocky, yet these planets are considered Super-Earths.
  • For planets outside of our solar system, those between half of Earth’s size to twice its radius, are considered Terrestrial
  • Thirty-five percent of the XOplanets are either Super-Earth or Terrestrial exoplanets
  • Fifty-nine XOplanets are confirmed to be in the habitable zone
  • Eighteen XOplanets are top candidates for water on the surface, either solid or liquid because water vapor has been detected in their atmospheres
  • Clouds on Earth are made of water but on other planets, they consist of chemicals like ammonia and ammonia hydrosulfide
  • Clouds on XOplanets can be made of silicates, the family of rock-forming minerals that make up over 90 percent of the Earth’s crust
  • One light year is approximately 6 trillion miles
  • There could be well over one trillion exoplanets in the Milky Way Galaxy alone

Fascinating Facts from a Sampling of Exoplanet Metadata

Proxima Centauri b: Is the closest XOplanet to Earth.

Kepler-452 b: Is the first potentially rocky Super-Earth planet discovered within the habitable zone.

J1407 b: Has been referred to as a ‘Saturn on steroids’ or ‘Super Saturn’ due to its massive system of circumplanetary rings about 640 times more than one of Saturn’s rings. It is an exoplanet located 434 light years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus and was the only known exoplanet with rings similar to Saturn when it was discovered.

WASP-39 b: Discovered in 2011 with the Wide Angle Search for Planets (WASP) survey, this planet contains three times as much water as Saturn. Located 700 light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Virgo, it was the first exoplanet to have the presence of carbon dioxide clearly detected! The NIRSpec instrument on the JSWT led the way to this discovery in August 2022. Although this planet is so close to its host star that it simmers at a boiling 900 degrees Celsius [1650 degrees Fahrenheit] scientists say that the discovery of carbon dioxide on this planet bodes well for the detection of atmospheres on smaller, Earth-sized exoplanets.

Gliese 581 c: Is located 20 light years or 120 trillion miles (192 trillion kilometers) from Earth in the constellation of Libra. It’s tidally locked, meaning that one side of the planet always faces the star and the other side never does — the near side is experiencing scorching temperatures which could instantly melt you alive, while the far side experiences freezing temperatures that would instantly turn you into a very frozen human. However, between these two extremes… is a narrow strip of land with much better conditions that could theoretically support alien life. In 2008, scientists sent a radio message at Gliese 581 c, which is expected to reach the planet in 2029.

51 Pegasi b: Is widely acknowledged as the first, true exoplanet to be identified in orbit around a normal star.

GJ 1214 b: This is one of the most likely candidates for being an ocean planet. It purportedly has no land but only oceans that stretch over its entire surface.

Gliese 436 b: This exoplanet seems to defy the laws of physics. It orbits its star at a distance of 15 times closer than Mercury is to the Sun and the icy surface is roasting at a temperature of 439 degrees Celsius (822 Fahrenheit). The gravity is so strong that it compresses the trace amounts of water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere into solid ice and prevents it from melting, no matter how much it burns.

55 Cancri e: A very massive and dense planet, this super-Earth is thought to be covered in diamonds.

Upsilon Andromedae b: It is the first known planet with crazily-different surface temperatures. This gas giant, according to NASA, has a 2,500 Fahrenheit (1,371 Celsius) difference between its warm side and its cold side: and that passing from one side to another would theoretically be “equivalent to leaping into a volcano.” Scientists believe that this is a result of the uniqueness of the planet’s atmosphere. In effect, by dispersing the light it absorbs quickly, incredible differences in temperatures occur. And … the hottest side of the planet is the one that doesn’t face its star.

WASP-166 b: It’s a Neptune-size planet that is located tremendously close to its star. Highly unusual for Neptunian exoplanets.

PSR B1620-26 b: This is the oldest known planet in the Milky Way. It is 5,600 light years from Earth. Its nickname is Methuselah.

HAT-P-7 b: Located in the Cygnus constellation, about 1000 light years from Earth, the weather on the planet’s night side can be hypothesized as ‘raining rubies and sapphires.’ Why? High precipitation of aluminum oxide (corundum) is found in the atmosphere and corundum gems are rubies and sapphires.

Kepler-10 b: It was announced in January 2011 as the first, unquestionably rocky exoplanet.

HD 260655 b: Was discovered by TESS 33 light years from Earth... It's a Super-Earth with temperatures estimated to be 816 degrees Fahrenheit.

K2-18 b: In September 2019, this exoplanet captured the interest of scientists all around the world. With the help of Hubble, researchers for the first time, detected water vapor signatures in the atmosphere of a planet beyond our solar system that resides in the ‘habitable zone.’

Kepler-16 b: This planet was Kepler’s first discovery of a planet that orbits two stars — what is known as a circumbinary planet.

PSR B1257+12 b and PSR B1257+12 c: The very first two exoplanets — confirmed in 1992 — were found in an unexpected part of the universe: around a pulsar, a rapidly spinning stellar corpse. Fewer than 0.5 percent of all known pulsars can host Earth-mass planets. Out of the 5171 exoplanets discovered to date, only five other pulsars are known to host anything resembling a planet.

HD 189773 b: It allegedly rains glass, sideways.

Kepler-438 b: Very similar to Earth, with an Earth Similarity Index (ESI) of 0.88 -- one of the highest similarity index numbers known for a confirmed planet. When announced, it was said to be orbiting within the habitable zone of the star Kepler 438, a region where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet.

CoRot 7 b: This is the first Super-Earth identified as a rocky exoplanet. Its discovery proved that worlds similar to Earth were indeed possible.

WASP-17 b: It’s one of the largest exoplanets discovered and is at least half of the size of Jupiter. What’s even more interesting is that this planet retrogrades the orbit, which means this planet moves in the opposite direction of its parent star.

Kepler-10 b: Kepler’s first rocky planet discovery is a scorched, earth-size world that scientists believe may have a lava ocean on its surface.

Tour Conclusion This concludes a tour of some of the most fascinating Exoplanets within the Milky Way Galaxy. We recommend that you prepare to purchase one or more of the unique XOplanet NFT masterpieces… before the James Webb Space Telescope discovers signs of life on one of them… and cosmic real estate values soar.

Follow us on our socials to get
the news as soon as possible