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Latest Exoplanetology Stories

SPHERE first light
2014-06-04 08:00:35

ESO Revolutionary new VLT instrument installed SPHERE — the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument — has been installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and has achieved first light. This powerful new facility for finding and studying exoplanets uses multiple advanced techniques in combination. It offers dramatically better performance than existing instruments and has produced impressive views of dust discs around...

Two Ancient Worlds Discovered In Neighboring Galactic Cluster
2014-06-04 07:02:00

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online Using new data from the HARPS spectrometer at the ESO’s La Silla observatory in Chile, an international team of scientists have discovered two exoplanets orbiting a nearby ancient star. Kapteyn’s star, named after Jacobus Kapteyn, who discovered the star in the 19th century, is a red dwarf and one of the two planets in its grasp sits at the right spot where life could form. Led by Queen Mary University of London, the...

Two Planets Will Be Eaten By Their Star
2014-06-02 03:21:55

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Two worlds orbiting a distant star are about to become a snack of cosmic proportions. Astronomers announced on Monday that the planets Kepler-56b and Kepler-56c will be swallowed by their star in a short time by astronomical standards. Their ends will come in 130 million and 155 million years, respectively. "As far as we know, this is the first time two known exoplanets in a single system have a predicted 'time of death,'" says lead author...

Exoplanets Come In Three "Neapolitan" Flavors
2014-06-02 03:09:48

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics The planets of our solar system come in two basic flavors, like vanilla and chocolate ice cream. We have small, rocky terrestrials like Earth and Mars, and large gas giants like Neptune and Jupiter. We're missing the astronomical equivalent of strawberry ice cream - planets between about one and four times the size of Earth. NASA's Kepler mission has discovered that these types of planets are very common around other stars. New research...

Astronomers Discover The "Mega-Earth"
2014-06-02 03:30:17

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Astronomers announced on Monday that they have discovered a new type of planet - a rocky world weighing 17 times as much as Earth. Theorists believed such a world couldn't form because anything so hefty would grab hydrogen gas as it grew and become a Jupiter-like gas giant. This planet, though, is all solids and much bigger than previously discovered "super-Earths," making it a "mega-Earth." "We were very surprised when we realized what we had...

Potential Life On Red-Dwarf Planets May Be Doomed Due To Harsh Space Weather
2014-06-02 03:34:30

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Life in the universe might be even rarer than we thought. Recently, astronomers looking for potentially habitable worlds have targeted red dwarf stars because they are the most common type of star, comprising 80 percent of the stars in the universe. But a new study shows that harsh space weather might strip the atmosphere of any rocky planet orbiting in a red dwarf's habitable zone. "A red-dwarf planet faces an extreme space environment, in...

Hazy Titan Sunsets Help In Research Of Exoplanet Atmospheres
2014-05-28 06:49:53

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online By studying a hazy sunset on Titan via the Cassini spacecraft, scientists are learning new ways to better understand the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting distant stars. Scientists developed a new technique based on the data provided by NASA’s Cassini mission that shows how hazy skies could impact the ability to study alien worlds. "It turns out there's a lot you can learn from looking at a sunset," Tyler Robinson, a NASA...

kepler to begin round two
2014-05-18 04:55:20

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online Believed to be retired for good after breaking down last year, the Kepler spacecraft has been revived and will be part of a newly-approved NASA mission to seek out new exoplanets while also expanding its role into the realm of astrophysical observations, the US space agency revealed on Friday. “The team received good news from NASA HQ – the K2 mission, the two-wheel operation mode of the Kepler spacecraft observing in the...

Finding An Exoplanet That Takes 80,000 Earth Years To Orbit Its Sun
2014-05-14 05:40:33

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online Using observations from multiple observation facilities, an international team of astronomers has identified a very unusual planet that takes around 80,000 Earth years to orbit its sun. The planet, dubbed GU Psc b, was determined to be 2,000 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun from its own star – a new record for exoplanets. The team said they were able to detect this highly unusual planet by detecting the light coming...

Artist’s impression of the planet Beta Pictoris b
2014-04-30 12:55:00

European Southern Observatory VLT measures the spin of Beta Pictoris b Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have, for the first time, determined the rotation rate of an exoplanet. Beta Pictoris b has been found to have a day that lasts only eight hours. This is much quicker than any planet in the Solar System — its equator is moving at almost 100,000 kilometers per hour. This new result extends the relation between mass and rotation seen in the Solar System to...


Latest Exoplanetology Reference Libraries

Planetary Astronomy
2014-01-12 00:00:00

Image Caption: Artistic concept of a planetary system. Credit: Wikipedia/NASA/JPL-Caltech The term Astronomy encompasses a broad range of topics, including the study of stars, galaxies, and planets. In order to focus on the different areas of study, many subfields of astronomy emerge. One such area is the study of planets known, appropriately, as Planetary Astronomy. Observational Planetary Astronomy Even within the field of Planetary Astronomy, there are several divisions to...

7_a23a0395183f2368aec4b62e1b9470672
2004-10-19 04:45:43

Terrestrial Planet Finder -- The Terrestrial Planet Finder is a proposed NASA telescope system capable of detecting extrasolar terrestrial planets. In May 2002, NASA chose two TPF mission architecture concepts for further study and technology development. Each would use a different means to achieve the same goal - to block the light from a parent star in order to see its much smaller, dimmer planets. That technology challenge has been likened to finding a firefly near the beam of...

6_f3ae28666ea2fe9e06e16221eea19d522
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Extrasolar Planet -- An extrasolar planet is a planet orbiting around a star other than the Sun. Extrasolar planets were first discovered in the 1990s as a result of improved telescope technology, CCD and computer-based image processing which allowed far more accurate measurements of stellar motions. The first extrasolar planets were reported by the astronomer Aleksander Wolszczan in 1993, orbiting the pulsar PSR 1257+12. Subsequent investigation has determined that they are only planets...

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Word of the Day
sough
  • A murmuring sound; a rushing or whistling sound, like that of the wind; a deep sigh.
  • A gentle breeze; a waft; a breath.
  • Any rumor that engages general attention.
  • A cant or whining mode of speaking, especially in preaching or praying; the chant or recitative characteristic of the old Presbyterians in Scotland.
  • To make a rushing, whistling, or sighing sound; emit a hollow murmur; murmur or sigh like the wind.
  • To breathe in or as in sleep.
  • To utter in a whining or monotonous tone.
According to the OED, from the 16th century, this word is 'almost exclusively Scots and northern dialect until adopted in general literary use in the 19th.'
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