Exoplanets are being discovered at an accelerating rate since the first one around a Sun-like star was confirmed in 1995. Beginning with Jupiter-sized and larger planets, the exoplanet zoo has enlarged to include super-Earths (1.2 to 2x the radius of Earth) and bodies smaller than Earth as well. There are no less than five different methods used to detect exoplanets. The transit method, exemplified by the Kepler space telescope, gets the most press and has bagged by far the largest number of ex-oplanet candidates (4300+), but the Doppler or radial-velocity method still has the most confirmed detections. The evolving theme in exoplanet research has become "we can predict nothing" since many of the discoveries like hot Jupiters have defied traditional theories and given us new insights into our own solar system, in particular about migrating planets. Categories of exoplanets have been discovered that "should not" exist, for example planets around binary stars. This talk shall attempt to overview the methods used to detect exoplanets, a few of the important and most fun discoveries, and what lies ahead.
Dr. Warren Wiscombe, Climate and Radiation Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center