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Exoplanet

Great news if you're planning a visit to exoplanets Kepler-7b or HAT-P-7b. An international team of astrophysicists has identified daily weather cycles using Kepler telescope data on these and four other far off worlds. The nightly news isn't about to start reading extrasolar weather reports, but this new knowledge will help improve our understanding of the Earth's place in the cosmic puzzle.

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A team of ESO astronomers working from the La Silla Observatory, Chile, has detected the first direct reflection of light from an exoplanet orbiting a Sun-like star. The exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b, is what is known as a hot Jupiter, a prevalent form of gas giant that sits much closer to its parent star than our own Jovian neighbor. Read More
Hubble has been a boon to deep space exploration, gifting us iconic pictures of the skies and revealing new insights into the history of the early universe. For the next big step in space astronomy, NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency are raising the stakes even higher with one of their most ambitious projects in decades: building the largest space telescope ever ... the James Webb Space Telescope. Read More
MIT researchers have developed a method of analyzing data from NASA's Keplar space observatory, that allows for the detection of clouds present in the atmosphere of distant exoplanets. Whilst such work may seem like blue sky science, the research has potentially profound implications for determining the habitability of distant worlds. Read More
One reason exoplanets are so fascinating is the possibility that they may harbor life, but the definition of habitable used by astronomers is so broad that it could include planets that obviously aren't. To help zero in on the more likely candidates, a British-built satellite called Twinkle will look at the atmospheres of exoplanets to seek more definite signs of life, as well as clues as to the chemistry, formation and evolution of exoplanets. Read More
A team led by scientists from the University of Birmingham, UK, have discovered an ancient solar system dating back to the dawn of the Milky Way. What makes the system truly fascinating is the confirmed existence of five Earth-sized planets, which may have profound implications for the presence of ancient life existing from an early point in our galaxy's 13.8 billion year history. Read More
Astronomers from the Leiden Observatory, Netherlands, and the University of Rochester, New York, have discovered a massive ring system obscuring the light of the young star J1407b. It is believed that the rings belong to a massive planet or possibly a brown dwarf, with an orbital period of roughly 10 years. The giant planet boasts a ring system around 200 times larger than that of Saturn, whose own rings were heavily depleted in the act of creating its many moons. Read More
The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) array, built by a UK, German and Swiss consortium, has achieved first light at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The installation is designed to search for exoplanets between two and eight times the size of Earth, studying them as they pass in front of their parent star. Read More
NASA's Kepler space telescope's count of exoplanets has passed the magic 1,000 mark, including eight new "habitable" planets and 544 candidate planets. Having confirmed so many exoplanets and their characteristics provides a database large enough to allow astronomers to carry out statistical analysis and make very rough predictions about how many planets there are in our galaxy, as well as the odds of finding another Earth. Read More
NASA's Kepler space telescope shows that it still has life in it as its extended mission begins to bear fruit. This week, the space agency announced that the spacecraft detected a new exoplanet, demonstrating that its K2 life extension mission is working. The planet, called, HIP 116454b, is 2.5 times larger in diameter than the Earth and orbits a star 180 light years from Earth in the constellation of Pisces every nine days at a distance that makes it much too hot for it to sustain life. Read More
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