The Smallest Lights in the Universe

The smallest lights in the UniverseIn this luminous memoir, an MIT astrophysicist must reinvent herself in the wake of tragedy and discovers the power of connection on this planet, even as she searches our galaxy for another Earth.

Sara Seager has always been in love with the stars: so many lights in the sky, so much possibility. Now a pioneering planetary scientist, she searches for exoplanets—especially that distant, elusive world that sustains life. But with the unexpected death of Seager’s husband, the purpose of her own life becomes hard for her to see. Suddenly, at forty, she is a widow and the single mother of two young boys. For the first time, she feels alone in the universe.

As she struggles to navigate her life after loss, Seager takes solace in the alien beauty of exoplanets and the technical challenges of exploration. At the same time, she discovers earthbound connections that feel every bit as wondrous, when strangers and loved ones alike reach out to her across the space of her grief. Among them are the Widows of Concord, a group of women offering advice on everything from home maintenance to dating, and her beloved sons, Max and Alex. Most unexpected of all, there is another kind of one-in-a-billion match, not in the stars but here at home.

Probing and invigoratingly honest, The Smallest Lights in the Universe is its own kind of light in the dark.

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Edited by Sara Seager

exoplanetsFor the first time in human history, we know for certain the existence of planets around other stars. Now the fastest-growing field in space science, the time is right for this fundamental source book on the topic which will lay the foundation for its continued growth. Exoplanets serves as both an introduction for the non-specialist and a foundation for the techniques and equations used in exoplanet observation by those dedicated to the field.

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Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes

By Sara Seager

exoplanet atmospheresOver the past twenty years, astronomers have identified hundreds of extrasolar planets–planets orbiting stars other than the sun. Recent research in this burgeoning field has made it possible to observe and measure the atmospheres of these exoplanets. This is the first textbook to describe the basic physical processes–including radiative transfer, molecular absorption, and chemical processes–common to all planetary atmospheres, as well as the transit, eclipse, and thermal phase variation observations that are unique to exoplanets.

In each chapter, Professor Sara Seager offers a conceptual introduction, examples that combine the relevant physics equations with real data, and exercises. Topics range from foundational knowledge, such as the origin of atmospheric composition and planetary spectra, to more advanced concepts, such as solutions to the radiative transfer equation, polarization, and molecular and condensate opacities. Since planets vary widely in their atmospheric properties, Seager emphasizes the major physical processes that govern all planetary atmospheres.

Moving from first principles to cutting-edge research, Exoplanet Atmospheres is an ideal resource for students and researchers in astronomy and earth sciences, one that will help prepare them for the next generation of planetary science.

The first textbook to describe exoplanet atmospheres illustrates concepts using examples grounded in real data; provides a step-by-step guide to understanding the structure and emergent spectrum of a planetary atmosphere; and includes exercises for students.


Exoplanet Atmospheres is a major scholarly contribution to an exciting, scientifically important, and rapidly expanding area of research in astrophysics, written by one of its intellectural leaders. Seager pulls together a comprehensive and meticulously organized set of scientific results and techniques. This book will be a bible for students and professionals interested in exoplanet atmospheres.

— Edwin L. Turner, Princeton University

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Exoplanets and the Search For Habitable Worlds

By Sara Seager

Is there life out thereHave you ever wondered whether life exists beyond Earth? Are you curious to know how many planets just like Earth might be out there? To answer these and other common questions Professor Seager has written the factual non-fiction book: Is there Life Out There? The Search for Habitable Exoplanets. Exoplanets are planets orbiting stars other than the sun. By searching for exoplanets like Earth, science will one day answer humanity’s oldest question: Is There Life Out There? Few understand that science-fiction is becoming science fact with a serious search for planets beyond Earth that can support life.


Brilliant, engaging, comprehensive, and visually attractive. It’s sure to be a hit.

— Dr. Alan Stern, former NASA SMD Associate Administrator

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