Which telescopes are on the hunt for exoplanets?

Exoplanets have been detected by a wide variety of telescopes, both on the ground and in space. New instruments will reveal many more within the next few years.

The first exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star was discovered in 1995 with a spectrograph on a relatively small telescope. The current generation of planet-hunting instruments, including ESO’s HARPS spectrograph, are much more sensitive. NASA’s pioneering Kepler space telescope identified thousands of possible exoplanets using the transit method. Other instruments, like ESO’s SPHERE or the Gemini Planet Imager, can image exoplanets directly. In the near future, new telescopes, both on the ground and in space, are expected to find many thousands more.

To find an exoplanet, you need a specialised telescope. The most famous exoplanet hunter is the Kepler space telescope. But there are many others.