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Exoplanet

— Space

MIT finds exoplanet with an 8.5-hour year

By - August 20, 2013 8 Pictures
Sometimes it seems as if the year just flies by. On planet Kepler 78b, it does exactly that. According to a team of scientists at MIT, the extrasolar world is so close to its sun that its year is only 8.5 hours long. That means that not only could a person go through almost three birthdays in one day, but that the surface temperature would be like taking up residence in a blast furnace. Read More
— Space

NASA abandons Kepler repairs, looks to the future

By - August 16, 2013 14 Pictures
If NASA has anything to say about it, Kepler is down, but not out. At a press teleconference on Thursday it announced that it has abandoned efforts to repair the damaged unmanned probe, which was designed to search for extrasolar planets and is no longer steady enough to continue its hunt. But the space agency is looking into alternative missions for the spacecraft based on its remaining capabilities. Read More
— Space

First color reveal of an exoplanet has the blues

By - July 12, 2013 6 Pictures
Uncovering any sort of detailed information about an exoplanet presents astronomers with an exceedingly difficult challenge. Despite the hurdles, however, some exoplanets are particularly well situated for such study. Astronomers have previously determined considerable information about the atmosphere and climate of HD 189733b. Now, thanks to Hubble observations made while it passed behind its primary star last December, we also know that this hot Jupiter-like planet is a deep cobalt blue in color, marking the first time that the color of an exoplanet has been measured. Read More
— Space

Scientists propose using gravity microlensing to keep Kepler in the hunt

By - June 19, 2013 5 Pictures
Last month, NASA declared its Kepler mission to hunt exoplanets at an end when one of the space telescope’s reaction wheels failed. Unable to keep itself pointed in the right direction, it could no longer carry on its hunt for planets beyond the Solar System. That seemed like the end of things, but Keith Horne of the University of St Andrews and Andrew Gould of Ohio State University disagree. They claim that Kepler could still hunt for exoplanets using gravity microlensing to detect how stars with planets distort space. Read More
— Space

Planetary Resources adds exoplanet hunting stretch goal to Kickstarter campaign

By - June 12, 2013 2 Pictures
In May, asteroid mining firm Planetary Resources announced its crowdfunding campaign for one of its Arkyd 100 telescope satellites that backers would be allowed to use for a bit of private space exploration. Having reached over US$860,000 of its $1 million goal on Wednesday, Planetary Resources is upping the ante by offering to upgrade the satellite for exoplanet hunting if pledges reach $2 million before the campaign ends on May 30. Read More
— Space

"Einstein's planet" becomes first exoplanet discovered using new detection method

By - May 14, 2013 2 Pictures
Due to their relative faintness compared to their parent stars, most known exoplanets have been discovered using indirect detection methods – that is, detecting the effects they have rather than observing them directly. There are numerous indirect methods that have proven useful in the detection of exoplanets and now yet another, which relies on Einstein’s special theory of relativity, has joined the list with the discovery of an exoplanet known as Kepler-76b. Read More
— Space

High-tech imaging reveals atmospheric composition of multiple exoplanets

By - March 26, 2013 8 Pictures
While the number of exoplanets so far identified is steadily marching towards the 1000 mark, fewer than twenty have been discovered in the course of direct observation by astronomical telescopes. Four of them (HR 8977 b,c,d,and e) circle an unprepossessing A5 star called HR 8977, which lies about 130 light-years distant from Earth. Thanks to the little-known astrophysics research arm of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), we now have the ability to examine the makeup of their atmospheres by taking simultaneous spectrographs of all four planets. Read More
— Space

NASA's Kepler finds exoplanet smaller than Mercury

By - February 20, 2013 5 Pictures
NASA’s Kepler space probe has discovered the smallest planet yet orbiting a Sun-like star. Dubbed Kepler-37b, the exoplanet orbits the star Kepler-37 about 210 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. It’s only one-third the size of Earth and smaller than Mercury, which makes it not only the smallest planet yet found outside the Solar System, but the smallest planet ever discovered. Read More
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