Exoplanets and the astronomy renaissance

Astronomy and the space sciences are going through somewhat of a renaissance, in both senses of the word – not only becoming of greater interest to the general public, but undergoing revolutions of theory and methodology. For example, not only are more extrasolar planets being discovered at an ever increasing rate, but their discovery is forcing changes to the theories of how planets are formed – it now appears that the heaviest of stars are actually the most likely to form a planetary system, contrary to previous thought. As always, Centauri Dreams provides the stuff that the mainstream media doesn’t bother with – like the fact that the water in the atmosphere of Gliese 436b isn’t quite what we’re accustomed to thinking of as water here on Earth.