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Exoplanet

This infrared image, one of the first taken by SPHERE, displays a dust ring orbiting a nea...

A new scientific instrument for detecting and observing remote exoplanets has been successfully installed on Unit 3 of the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). The Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument, or SPHERE, recently returned its first set of images and is promised to revolutionize the exploration and study of these distant celestial bodies.  Read More

Kepler-10c is 17 times more massive than the Earth (Image: NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian Center...

Despite being currently offline, the Kepler space telescope is still turning up surprises. One of them is an Earth-like planet that’s so large that astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics call it a “mega-Earth.” Planet Kepler-10c is 17 times heavier than the Earth, and may require scientists to rethink their ideas on planet formation and the likelihood of life in our galaxy.  Read More

Artist's Impression of Cassini passing near Titan (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Data collected from observations recorded by NASA's Cassini mission has been used to propose ways to better understand the atmospheres of exoplanets. By studying the light of sunsets on Saturn’s satellite, Titan, scientists have shown how spectra are subtly altered when passing through a hazy atmosphere, thereby giving a greater insight into interpreting the spectral readings of the atmosphere of these distant worlds.  Read More

The giant exoplanet GU Psc b has an orbital period of 80,000 years (Image: Lucas Granito/G...

Using an infrared camera, astronomers at the University of Montreal have discovered and directly imaged GU Psc b, a planet with a mass 10 times greater than Jupiter's and orbiting its star at 2,000 times the distance between Earth and our sun. This very rare find will encourage scientists to start looking for exoplanets in places where, thus far, they hadn't even thought to look.  Read More

Artist's impressionof Beta Pictoris b

According to NASA, 1,703 planets orbiting 1,033 stars have been found so far, but very little is known about these planets beyond some deductions based on their orbits. That veil is lifting though, as demonstrated by Dutch astronomers who have for the first time measured the length of an exoplanet’s day. Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile’s Atacama desert, the team has learned that the young extrasolar gas giant Beta Pictoris b has an eight-hour day and spins faster than any planet in the Solar System.  Read More

Artist's impression of Kepler-186f (Image: NASA)

The search for extraterrestrial life zeroed in a bit today as NASA announced that its unmanned Kepler Space Telescope detected the most Earth-like planet yet found beyond the Solar System. Named Kepler-186f, the new planet orbits a red dwarf star about 500 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, is only 10 percent larger than our planet, and could have liquid water, which is essential for life as we know it.  Read More

Starshade and its space telescope (Image: NASA)

Apparently NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, thinks that what space exploration in the 21st century needs is spacecraft that are a bit more botanical. The center has released a video showing off its starshade spacecraft that opens up like a blossom. Bearing a resemblance to a cosmic sunflower, it’s designed to help astronomers to directly study exoplanets, including taking the first actual pictures of planets beyond our Solar System.  Read More

“Kepler has produced results needed to take the next big step forward in humankind's searc...

It’s been five years since NASA’s $600 million Kepler Space Telescope was launched to look for planets beyond our Solar System – so-called exoplanets – and while the quest to find a twin for Earth has so far been fruitless, Kepler’s observations have revealed our galaxy to be full of worlds potentially able to support life.  Read More

Artist's concept of exoplanet systems (Image: NASA)

It’s a good thing that planets outside our Solar System get catalog designations instead of proper names, or space scientists would now be scraping the barrel for “Ralph” or “Tigger.” That’s because on Wednesday, NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope had hit the “motherload” of exoplanets, confirming 715 new planets in 315 star systems. It used a new statistical technique that the space agency says has removed a bottleneck that has plagued the analysis of the Kepler data.  Read More

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

Last year, it looked as though the Kepler space probe had nothing to look forward to but the scrap heap. After the failure of two of its reaction wheels, the unmanned spacecraft was incapable of maintaining the precision pointing needed to hunt planets beyond the Solar System. Now, however, NASA’s Kepler team has demonstrated that space telescope can still detect exoplanets thanks the K2 mission concept maneuver.  Read More

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