Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, was launched in 2018 with the goal of discovering small planets around the Sun's nearest neighbors, stars bright enough to allow for follow-up characterizations of their planets' masses and atmospheres.


As the slightly spinning material in a pre-stellar condensation collapses to form a star, angular momentum conservation shapes it into a circumstellar disk. Planets form from the gas and dust in these disks, whose structure and evolution are thus keys to unraveling the planet-building process.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a "research institute" of the Smithsonian Institution. It is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Because these research activities share Harvard and Smithsonian staff and resources, the links at this website will take you to information posted on the "CfA" pages.