The Galaxy is a Crowded Place – A Series One of the things that mankind’s search for exoplanets – planets located outside our own solar system – has shown us is that there are a lot more of them out there than we initially thought. As of this morning, we've found 1,774 exoplanets, a good chunk of them (962) found by the Kepler mission! They have a backlog of about 3,845 planet candidates for it to work through. Way back in 1989, we found the first exoplanet – HD114762 b (nicknamed Latham’s Planet, after its discoverer) – because of its great mass (10.98 Jupiter masses). That mass causes it to exert a small tug on its star due to its radial velocity, making the star “wobble”. HD114762 b is situated 128.7 light years from Earth, with a surface temperature of about 487K. So, I thought it would be fascinating to explore our galactic neighborhood, beginning with those closest to us, working our way further into the galaxy. Of course, as many of us know, that means we’ll start with Alpha Centauri B b: For long-time Star Trek fans, it probably won’t come as a surprise that we found a planet around the closest star to us. They probably will be surprised by how recently that discovery happened – two years ago in 2012! Alpha Centauri B b is interesting because it’s an Earth-mass planet (1.13 Earth masses) extremely close to its star (only .0400 AU) away. That means it whips around its star (1.227 solar masses), with a very short year (3.23 days)! It makes sense that we found this planet by the same radial velocity “wobble” indicator as referenced above. Alpha Centauri B b is 4.37 light years from Earth, and is, so far, the only planet in its system. Well, that’s it for this time! A huge part of my decision to keep the series going will be reader feedback. If it’s something you find useful, entertaining, or informative, please let me know here in the thread! If noone’s digging it but me, I’ll get that message quickly.