Blaes, O. “A Universe of Disks.” Scientific American (October 2004): 48. On accretion disks and jets around young stars and black holes.
Croswell, K. “The Dust Belt Next Door [Tau Ceti].” Scientific American (January 2015): 24. Short intro to recent observations of planets and a wide dust belt.
Frank, A. “Starmaker: The New Story of Stellar Birth.” Astronomy (July 1996): 52.
Jayawardhana, R. “Spying on Stellar Nurseries.” Astronomy (November 1998): 62. On protoplanetary disks.
O’Dell, C. R. “Exploring the Orion Nebula.” Sky & Telescope (December 1994): 20. Good review with Hubble results.
Ray, T. “Fountains of Youth: Early Days in the Life of a Star.” Scientific American (August 2000): 42. On outflows from young stars.
Young, E. “Cloudy with a Chance of Stars.” Scientific American (February 2010): 34. On how clouds of interstellar matter turn into star systems.
Young, Monica “Making Massive Stars.” Sky & Telescope (October 2015): 24. Models and observations on how the most massive stars form.
Billings, L. “In Search of Alien Jupiters.” Scientific American (August 2015): 40–47. The race to image jovian planets with current instruments and why a direct image of a terrestrial planet is still in the future.
Heller, R. “Better Than Earth.” Scientific American (January 2015): 32–39. What kinds of planets may be habitable; super-Earths and jovian planet moons should also be considered.
Laughlin, G. “How Worlds Get Out of Whack.” Sky & Telescope (May 2013): 26. On how planets can migrate from the places they form in a star system.
Marcy, G. “The New Search for Distant Planets.” Astronomy (October 2006): 30. Fine brief overview. (The same issue has a dramatic fold-out visual atlas of extrasolar planets, from that era.)
Redd, N. “Why Haven’t We Found Another Earth?” Astronomy (February 2016): 25. Looking for terrestrial planets in the habitable zone with evidence of life.
Seager, S. “Exoplanets Everywhere.” Sky & Telescope (August 2013): 18. An excellent discussion of some of the frequently asked questions about the nature and arrangement of planets out there.
Seager, S. “The Hunt for Super-Earths.” Sky & Telescope (October 2010): 30. The search for planets that are up to 10 times the mass of Earth and what they can teach us.
Villard, R. “Hunting for Earthlike Planets.” Astronomy (April 2011): 28. How we expect to find and characterize super-Earth (planets somewhat bigger than ours) using new instruments and techniques that could show us what their atmospheres are made of.
Websites and Apps
Exoplanet Exploration: PlanetQuest (from the Navigator Program at the Jet Propulsion Lab) is probably the best site for students and beginners, with introductory materials and nice illustrations; it focuses mostly on NASA work and missions.
Exoplanets: Planetary Society’s exoplanets pages with a dynamic catalog of planets found and good explanations.
Exoplanets: The Search for Planets beyond Our Solar System: From the British Institute of Physics in 2010.
Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia: Maintained by Jean Schneider of the Paris Observatory, has the largest catalog of planet discoveries and useful background material (some of it more technical).
Formation of Stars: Star Formation page from the Hubble Space Telescope, with links to images and information.
Kepler Mission: The public website for the remarkable telescope in space that is searching planets using the transit technique and is our best hope for finding earthlike planets.
Exoplanet: Allows you to browse through a regularly updated visual catalog of exoplanets that have been found so far.
Journey to the Exoplanets: Produced by the staff of Scientific American, with input from scientists and space artists; gives background information and visual tours of the nearer star systems with planets.
A Star Is Born: Discovery Channel video with astronomer Michelle Thaller (2:25).
Are We Alone: An Evening Dialogue with the Kepler Mission Leaders: A non-technical panel discussion on Kepler results and ideas about planet formation with Bill Borucki, Natalie Batalha, and Gibor Basri (moderated by Andrew Fraknoi) at the University of California, Berkeley (2:07:01).
Finding the Next Earth: The Latest Results from Kepler: Natalie Batalha (San Jose State University & NASA Ames) public talk in the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series (1:28:38).
Search for Habitable Exoplanets: Sara Seeger (MIT) public talk at the SETI Institute, with Kepler results (1:10:35).
Strange Planetary Vistas: Josh Carter (CfA) public talk at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics with a friendly introduction to exoplanets for non-specialists (46:35).