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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an exoplanet?

A planet that orbits a star outside our solar system.

What is a 'brown dwarf'?

A celestial object intermediate in size between a giant planet and a small star, believed to emit mainly infrared radiation.

Could a planet orbit a 'brown dwarf' or a star other than a sun yet still sustain conditions like Earth?

Computer models suggesting conditions for these bodies to have habitable planets are very stringent, the habitable zone being narrow and decreasing with time, due to the cooling of the brown dwarf.

Is there a catalogue or database of existing exoplanets and is that subject to any possible change?

There isn't much info that you won't find online nowadays. Click here.

What might a system of exoplanets look like?

Very similar to what the planets in our solar system look like.

Is HUBBLE the world's biggest telescope?

No. A few ground telescopes already outperform the Hubble, see 'The European Extremely Large Telescope or E-ELT'.

What is the main difference between simply having an amateur astronomy telescope at home and using the bigger, professional / academic models?

Everything - from the technology, to quality.

I'd like to take up astronomy as a hobby. What's a good way to start?

astronomyforbeginners.com is a good place to start.

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