We thought we understood the planets of our Solar System until we discovered new worlds beyond our own Sun. Planets the size of Jupiter with orbits completed in Earth days, planets with two suns in the sky and others with seas of tar or endless oceans. How did these worlds form, how did we find them and could any of these discoveries be at all like our own Earth?
Elizabeth Tasker is an astrophysicist and science communicator at Japan’s space agency, JAXA, in Tokyo. Her research uses computer models to explore the formation of planets and stars, focussing particularly on how rocky planets might form and how diverse conditions on these worlds might be. Elizabeth frequently writes for the media, principally on exoplanets and space missions, but her articles have also covered topics from star tables in ancient Egypt to deep-sea drilling for the cause of earthquakes. Her popular science book, The Planet Factory, was published by Bloomsbury in 2017 (paperback in 2019).