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Exoplanet

The 6.5 m James Webb Space Telescope could herald a new age for astronomy (Image: NASA/Nor...

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

Artist's impression of Kepler-7b (Image: NASA, Jose-Luis Olivares, MIT)

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

The Twinkle satellite will look at the atmospheres of exoplanets to seek more definite sig...

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

Artist's impression of the ancient solar system (Image: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine)

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

A massive ring system has been discovered orbiting eclipsing a distant star (Image: Univer...

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

A long-exposure night time view of the NGTS telescopes during testing – the ESO's VISTA is...

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

Artist's impression of the Kepler space telescope (Image: NASA)

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

Artist's concept of Kepler carrying out its new K2 mission(Image: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T ...

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

A worldwide contest is letting the general public help name up to 30 exoplanets and their ...

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the organization in charge of naming celestial objects, has set up a public contest that will let people all around the globe pick the names of 20 to 30 well-characterized exoplanets and their respective host stars by August next year.  Read More

Artist's conception shows the Earth (left) compared to the super-Earth 55 Cancri e (right)...

When you're hunting for exoplanets many light years away, the complications posed by the Earth's atmosphere can make the search incredibly difficult for ground-based telescopes. That's why space-based telescopes, such as Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler, are generally employed for the job. But now for the first time, astronomers have detected the transit of a super-Earth in front of a nearby Sun-like star, which could see ground-based telescopes more widely used in categorizing the growing number of exoplanets expected to be discovered in the next few years.  Read More

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