Latest Exoplanetology Stories

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...

Search For Life On Exoplanets May Be More Difficult Than Previously Thought
2014-04-30 03:25:19

Don Campbell, University of Toronto Scarborough A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough suggests the search for life on planets outside our solar system may be more difficult than previously thought. The study, authored by a team of international researchers led by UTSC Assistant Professor Hanno Rein from the Department of Physical and Environmental Science, finds the method used to detect biosignatures on such planets, known as exoplanets, can produce a false positive...

wise brown dwarf
2014-04-25 12:21:48

NASA NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered what appears to be the coldest "brown dwarf" known -- a dim, star-like body that, surprisingly, is as frosty as Earth's North Pole. Images from the space telescopes also pinpointed the object's distance to 7.2 light-years away, earning it the title for fourth closest system to our sun. The closest system, a trio of stars, is Alpha Centauri, at about 4 light-years away. "It's very...

Mysteries Of Nearby Planetary System's Dynamics Are Now Solved
2014-04-22 12:33:58

Penn State Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved, report authors of a scientific paper to be published by the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in its early online edition on 22 April 2014. The study, which presents the first viable model for the planetary system orbiting one the first stars discovered to have planets -- the star named 55 Cancri -- was led by Penn State University graduate student Benjamin Nelson in...

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...

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...

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
  • A landsman who is making his first voyage at sea; a novice who enters naval service from rural life.
According to the OED, a grass-comber is also 'a sailor's term for one who has been a farm-labourer.'