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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for planet hunters, 29 Aug 2011
This review is from: The Exoplanet Handbook (Hardcover)
I am a professor of astronomy specializing in ground-based searches for transiting exoplanets, and I teach a number of undergraduate courses in stellar and exoplanetary science. I were allowed access to only one book on the subject of extra-solar planets, Michael Perryman's "Exoplanet Handbook" is a contender that would be very hard to beat. The book documents the whirlwind development of this newly-emergent and energetic new field of science, providing a comprehensive historical guide to the academic literature in the field as it stood at the end of 2010. It is also a compendium of essential physical concepts, useful formulae and computational strategies for analysis of the various types of astronomical data used to discover and characterise exoplanets.

Throughout the book, clear and succinct descriptions of the underlying physics illuminate the key equations in the planet-hunter's armoury. Perryman follows the advances and setbacks encountered by the army of academics, postdocs and grad students who have driven the whole enterprise, by binding their individual contributions to the refereed journal literature into an engaging narrative woven around the essential physics. Remarkably, the 2000 or so papers referenced in the book's 70-page bibliography represent about one-third of the 6000 articles that have documented the advance of the field over the last 15 years.

Perryman reviews the development of exoplanetary science at a level of detail that is perfectly suited to the needs of advanced undergraduates or newly-graduated students embarking on a research career in this field. Each of the book's opening chapters documents the underlying physical theory and observational techniques for each of the main discovery methods in turn: radial velocities, astrometry, gravitational microlensing, transits and direct imaging. A chapter on stellar physics and asteroseismology drives home the message that intimate knowledge of the host star is central to our understanding of the age and primordial elemental composition of any planetary system. The ensuing chapter on the formation and evolution of planetary systems illustrates the complex interplay of chemistry and dynamics that determines the final architecture of a star and its planets. In the final two chapters, Perryman outlines our present theoretical understanding of the interiors and atmospheres of planets and the conditions for planetary habitability, then turns back to look at the processes that have shaped our own solar system in the light of the lessons learned from the study of alien planetary-system architectures.

I recommend this book to advanced undergraduates studying exoplanetary science as part of a modular degree course. It provides a salutary reminder that all the relevant disciplines from orbital dynamics through stellar and planetary structure to asteroseismology are interconnected: university degree courses may be modular, but science isn't. For researchers starting out at PhD level, the book's panoramic overview of the literature in this field is without parallel. For more established researchers seeking to establish the feasibility of a new idea for a telescope proposal or grant application, the building-blocks for the essential back-of-the-envelope calculations are all here, in the places where you expect to find them. This aspect of the work will ensure its lasting usefulness - the hard binding is a wise choice, as I expect to consult it frequently for many years to come.

Perryman tells the tale of this youthful and burgeoning field of astrophysics from his authoritative viewpoint as one of its leading protagonists. For the old dogs, Perryman's thumbnail portraits of the capabilities of past and future instruments, both ground-based and space-based, give a clear strategic overview of what has worked best in the past, and of what the future might hold. As we struggle to maintain the pace of discovery in difficult economic times, this well-balanced and comprehensive overview is likely to prove invaluable to decision-makers seeking to maximise scientific return on investment in new-generation space missions and giant ground-based telescopes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Exoplanet Handbook, 12 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Exoplanet Handbook (Hardcover)
I am a professor of astronomy and have been in the exoplanet business since 1988. For the past several years I have taught a course on "Exoplanets" as part of a modular degree course. When my students would ask for an appropriate textbook that covered all of the course material my reply had always been "there are none". That is until Michael Perryman's "The Exoplanet Handbook". Every chapter corresponds to a topic in my course and they frequently include the same figures from the literature that I used in my lectures. Perryman's book compiles all the pertinent and current knowledge in exoplanets in one place. It would have been much easier for me to prepare lectures with this book! This is a comprehensive and well-written textbook that beautifully covers all aspects of the dynamic field of exoplanets. I agree completely with the excellent review given by Andrew Cameron.

I highly recommend this book for all advanced undergraduates and to graduate students just venturing into the exoplanet business. It is also a very valuable resource
for any academic person that is preparing a university course on this topic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic resource for extra-solar planets, 25 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Exoplanet Handbook (Hardcover)
I am an astrophysicist doing research in the field of extra-solar planets and this is the best book on the subject that I have read. This book covers everything that an early graduate student starting to think about exoplanet research should know. The book contains a huge amount of information and a lot of references to scientific papers containing more depth on a given topic. The methods and science behind all of the big exoplanet discoveries up until late 2010 are covered in detail -- I am impressed at how up to date the book is given the very fast rate of new discoveries.

I could see using this book as the textbook for a broad advanced undergraduate- or graduate-level class on exoplanet science. The chapters are nicely laid out, with ~half-page explanations of an extremely wide variety of topics and all the references you could need to learn more. There are a lot of figures, in many cases drawn from recent relevant scientific papers, that do a good job of illustrating the key points. There are some equations but only where they are useful.

There is so much useful information in this book that I intend to keep this book close to my desk for the foreseeable future.

I have been trying to come up with something negative to say about the book so that my review appears unbiased but I can't find anything -- perhaps the overabundance of references although in general I found that the right references were chosen for a given subject.

I fully agree with the elegant praise from Andrew Cameron's review -- this is an excellent book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Significant Achievement, 6 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Exoplanet Handbook (Hardcover)
The ambitious Exoplanet Handbook successfully ties together all aspects of exoplanetary science in a coherent and highly readable single source. The Encyclopedia-sized entries include concise explanations, current references, and equations when necessary. The book will save researchers valuable time, provide a framework for exoplanet lectures, and represent an indispensable source for students learning the trade; I wish this book was available when I was a student.
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