|Artist's concept shows a gas giant planet orbiting the cool, red dwarf star Gliese 876, located 15 light-years from Earth. The star's wobble established the planet as about twice Jupiter's mass. Image courtesy ESA.|
These are exoplanets which stand out from the norm. There is some aspect about them that makes them intriguing or unique. The list of discoveries will evolve and expand over time so long as our search into the unknown remains strong and robust. Intriguing extrasolar planets as imagined and portrayed by other may be found at this site from Scientific American.
- Closest Exoplanet to Earth
- Most Planets Orbiting Star
- Most Eccentric (eliptical) Planetary Orbit
- Largest Planet
- First Directly Observed Exoplanet
- Directly Observed Exoplanet Closest to its Star
- First Detection of Organic Molecule and Water
- Is it a planet or a star?
- Quadruple Star Planet
Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the southern skies and is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System — only 4.3 light-years away. It is actually a triple star — a system consisting of two stars similar to the Sun orbiting close to each other, designated Alpha Centauri A and B, and a more distant and faint red component known as Proxima Centauri.
In late 2012 European astronomers discovered a planet within an orbit about six million kilometres away from a star in the Alpha Centauri system. The planet, with a mass about the same as Earth, was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
The newly discovered planet's orbit of Alpha Centauri B is much closer than Mercury is to the Sun in our Solar System. Alpha Centauri Bb, as the new planet is known, is likely rocky. However, unlike Earth, at 1,204 degrees C (2,200 degrees F) it is extremely hot due to its close orbit of the parent star. It is clearly not a candidate for future human habitation.