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Exoplanet

Space

Kepler spies largest exoplanet yet that orbits two stars

Planets that orbit two stars have traditionally been difficult to detect. Despite decades of suspicion, we didn't even spot our first one until 2011 and even now their irregular orbits make life tricky for those in the planet-hunting game. NASA has today confirmed the discovery of the largest of these circumbinary planets, the imaginatively named Kepler-1647 b, some 3,700 light years away. Read More

Space

Was Planet 9 born of a different star?

A team of researchers from Lund University, Sweden, has run a series of computer simulations to test the likelihood that the as-of-yet undiscovered Planet 9 formed in the orbit of an alien star. Whilst the planet has not yet been directly observed, evidence of its gravitational influence may have been observed perturbing the orbits of six Kuiper Belt objects, leading some to assert that Planet 9 boasts a mass around 10 times that of Earth.Read More

Space

Simulations suggest Kepler 62-f is "a strong candidate for a habitable planet"

It's been over 20 years since the first planet orbiting a Sun-like star outside our solar system was discovered, and at last count the grand total stands at 3,268. Unfortunately, only a handful of exoplanets orbit within the habitable zone around their stars. A team of astronomers has set their sights on one such exoplanet, and through computer simulations determined that it could harbor a rocky composition, oceans and, potentially, even life.Read More

Space

Red dwarf exoplanets not as habitable as once believed

Fresh research is pouring cold water on the hopes of discovering life on distant exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars. It had previously been thought that Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones (HZs) of the small stars could provide a possible haven for life, but sophisticated computer models suggest that these planets are likely rendered uninhabitable by their super-dense atmospheres.Read More

Space

Could life exist around ancient red giant stars?

According to a study carried out by researchers from Cornell University, aged red giant stars could harbor exoplanets suited to the evolution of extraterrestrial life. The team used advanced stellar evolution models to estimate the boundaries of the habitable zones (HZ) of post main sequence (MS) ancient red giant stars, taking into account a wide range of stellar ages and properties.Read More

Space

2,325 and counting: Kepler doubles its haul in largest exoplanet discovery ever

Since it launched six years years ago, NASA's Kepler space telescope has provided a guiding light in our search for extraterrestrial life, scanning the sky for potentially habitable Earth-size planets. Today the agency has announced the discovery of almost 1,300 new exoplanets, doubling the craft's previous tally and giving the chances of finding another world just like ours a healthy little boost.Read More

Space

Two technologies that could be invaluable to the search for life

NASA and its partners are in the process of developing two cutting-edge technologies with the potential to significantly advance the hunt for extraterrestrial life on distant Earth-like planets. The ambitious designs currently under development could allow astronomers to cut through the intense disturbance caused by an exoplanet's parent star, allowing them to image the remote worlds directly, and make detailed observations.Read More

Space

Three newly discovered exoplanets prime candidates in search for life elsewhere in the Universe

Using a telescope especially designed to hunt exoplanets, a team of astronomers working at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered three planets orbiting a dwarf sun, just 40 light-years from Earth. According to the researchers, all three worlds are potentially habitable given their sizes and temperatures, and may be the best possibilities yet in the search for life beyond our solar system.
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Space Feature

Artist's impression: How to paint a planet

Exoplanets take many weird and wonderful forms, and we've only discovered a handful of the untold number that exist in our universe. Even though a small number have been directly imaged, most have been identified through indirect methods and in both cases, the actual appearance of the planet is left almost entirely to the imagination. This means that it falls to talented artists to provide an accessible interpretation of what these remote bodies could look like. We spoke to space artist Danielle Futselaar to uncover what goes into illustrating a planet.Read More

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