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Exoplanet

Artist's impression of Kepler-47, the first confirmed binary system with multiple planets ...

It's been more than three and a half years since the Kepler Space Telescope began its mission as humanity's watcher for Earth-like planets outside of the Solar System. In that time, Kepler has done exactly what was asked of it: provide the data to help identify more than 2,300 exoplanet candidates in other star systems. And so NASA has announced the "successful completion" of Kepler's prime mission. There's one nagging detail, though: we are yet to find a truly Earth-like planet. It's time to alter the parameters of the search.  Read More

Artist's concept of the HD 40307 planetary system featuring a close-up view of HD 40307g, ...

Due to the masterful efforts of an international team of astronomers, a new super-Earth planet has been discovered within the habitable zone of a star just 42 light years from Earth. Part of a six planetary system, the super-Earth known as HD 40307g has several promising attributes in terms of its ability to support life and because of its relative proximity, it may soon be possible to observe the planet optically.  Read More

CHEOPS, the first of ESA's S-class missions, will study super-Earths

The European Space Agency (ESA) is set to give existing orbiting probes, such as COROT and Kepler, a helping hand in studying super-Earths. Selected from 26 proposals, the CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) spacecraft is the first S-class (“small”) mission in the ESA’s Science Programme. A partnership between the ESA and the Swiss Space Office, CHEOPS will not seek out new exoplanets, but will instead target nearby, bright stars that are already known to have orbiting planets.  Read More

Artist's impression from a point in the Alpha Centauri triple star system, showing the new...

European astronomers working from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile have discovered a planet slightly more massive than Earth, orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri triple star system – the nearest stellar system to our planet. Alpha Centauri Bb (as the new exoplanet is called, the star being Alpha Centauri B) is the first Earth-sized body found orbiting a Sun-like star and was discovered by measuring the tiny wobbles of Alpha Centauri B as it moves in response to the gravitational pull of the orbiting planet. It is orbiting Alpha Centauri B every three days and six hours at an orbital radius of six million kilometers (3.7 million miles). The proximity to the star leads to a surface temperature of some 1,500º K (2,250º F/1,232º C) – hot enough to melt granite.  Read More

Scientists destroy simulated Earths to better understand exoplanets, such as Earth-like pl...

Unlike in old B movies, real scientists don’t scream “Fools! I’ll destroy them all!” before throwing the switch on their doomsday device. At least, most of the them don’t. However, the August 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal reports that a team of scientists are working on destroying the world - not once, but repeatedly. Fortunately, the world they’re destroying exists only in a computer simulation and its destruction is in the service of learning more about planets revolving around other stars.  Read More

An artist's impression of the Spitzer Space Telescope (Image: NASA)

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected infrared light emanating from 55 Cancri e, a dark, blazing-hot planet only twice the size of Earth and eight times as heavy. This marks the first time that light has been detected from a planet of such a small size, and the find is telling astrophysicists where to look in their search for signs of life on planets beyond our own.  Read More

HD 189733 b transiting its parent star, the 8th magnitude HD 189733 (Image: NASA/JPL-Calte...

Today's weather on HD 189733 b: It will be hazy with high wispy clouds. The wind will be steady from the east at speeds approaching 6000 miles per hour. Daytime temperatures will average a balmy 800 degrees C (1,472 degrees F), while the equatorial hot spot at 30 degrees longitude is expected to top 900 degrees C (1,652 degrees F). But, there is a high chance of silicate snow showers, with accumulations expected except in the vicinity of the hot spot.  Read More

Artist's view of GJ1214b (Image credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Aguilar (Harvard-Smithsonian Cen...

Planets orbiting two stars, giant super-Earths and worlds racked with boiling rock storms - these are just some of the galactic oddities among the more than 700 exoplanets discovered in the past 20 years. Now there's another new class of extrasolar planet to add to the list - the waterworld.  Read More

An artistic conception of  the triple star system where GJ667Cc resides (Image: Carnegie I...

An international team of scientists led by Professors Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institution for Science in the U.S. has discovered a potentially habitable Super-Earth that's "just" 22 light years away. The new Super-Earth has a mass that is 4.5 times larger than that of our planet and it revolves around its parent star in 28 days - a star that is significantly smaller than ours. This remarkable new discovery suggests that habitable planets could exist in a wider variety of environments than previously believed.  Read More

Artist's rendering of KOI-961 (Image: NASA)

Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the tiniest solar system found so far. The system consists of a single red dwarf star, known as KOI-961 and three planets which are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The planets are thought to be rocky - like Earth - but orbit much closer to their star making them too hot to be habitable.  Read More

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