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Keyword: exoplanets

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  • Kepler detects nearly 1,300 more planets orbiting distant stars

    05/14/2016 9:10:33 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 11 replies ^ | 5/11/16 | David Perlman
    Astronomers monitoring the Kepler space telescope have detected nearly 1,300 planets flying in orbit around distant stars, a cosmic search that began nearly 10 years ago inside a rusty old telescope dome at the Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton near San Jose. From the size and orbits of the new-found “exoplanets,” the astronomers said at least 550 could be rocky planets much like Earth, and at least nine are orbiting at just the right distance from their stars to lie inside their “habitable zones” where temperatures would be just right for liquid water, the one ingredient essential for life to...
  • The truth about exoplanets

    02/23/2016 8:24:35 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    Nature ^ | 17 Feb, 2016 | Jeff Hecht
    Astronomers are beginning to glimpse what exoplanets orbiting distant suns are actually like. The trickle of discoveries has become a torrent. Little more than two decades after the first planets were found orbiting other stars, improved instruments on the ground and in space have sent the count soaring: it is now past 2,000. The finds include 'hot Jupiters', 'super-Earths' and other bodies with no counterpart in our Solar System - and have forced astronomers to radically rethink their theories of how planetary systems form and evolve. Yet discovery is just the beginning. Astronomers are aggressively moving into a crucial phase...
  • NASA confirms the discovery of a rocky exoplanet just 21 light years away

    07/31/2015 4:43:42 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 17 replies
    The Verge ^ | July 30, 2015 | Sean O'Kane
    Earth just got a new next-door neighbor.Astronomers have found the closest rocky planet outside our solar system using the Spitzer Space telescope. The planet, known as HD 219134b, orbits a star just 21 light years away, and NASA is calling a "potential gold mine of science data." The planet is probably a bad place for life as we know it: it’s 1.6 times the size of Earth and more than four times the mass. Plus its three-day orbit is too close to its host star for liquid water to form, even though the star is cooler and smaller than our...
  • Could scientists soon detect alien 'plant' life on exoplanets? (Detecting Chlorophyll)

    05/06/2014 8:28:57 AM PDT · by equalator · 18 replies
    Fox News ^ | 5-6-2014 | Discovery
    In a new paper submitted to the arXiv preprint service, astrophysicists Timothy Brandt and David Spiegel of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, New Jersey, focused on the hunt for the chemical signature of oxygen, water and chlorophyll in the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanetary atmospheres. Oxygen and water are essential for life as we know it, and chlorophyll is a biomolecule vital for photosynthesis on Earth. Photosynthesis is the extraction of energy from sunlight, a process employed by plants and some microbes, such as cyanobacteria.
  • Super-Earth 40 light years away 'is rich in water with a thick, steamy atmosphere', confirm Japanese

    09/05/2013 10:51:08 AM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 55 replies
    Mail Online ^ | UPDATED: 05:55 EST, 5 September 2013 | Ellie Zolfagharifard
    GJ 1214b is 2.6 times Earth’s diameter and weighs seven times as much It was first discovered as part of the ground-based MEarth Project in 2009The observations by the Subaru telescope could help scientists find out more about the planet's birthplace and formation history Blue light observations of a super-Earth 40 light years from our planet suggest that it is a world with a thick, steamy water-rich atmosphere.Japanese astronomers used the Subaru telescope to observe planetary transits of the super-Earth, which is located at the centre of the Milky Way.Astronomers had previously confirmed that this alien world has a thick...
  • Are we alone?

    06/26/2013 5:40:58 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 43 replies
    aeon magazine ^ | 6/25/13 | Caleb Scharf
    The rites of spring are many and varied. As a child in rural England, I was once given the chore of finding and rearranging the bulbs of a long-unattended flowerbed. I’m not sure if spring was a wise time to do this from a horticultural point of view. It seemed to me that, having survived the rigours of winter, these hardy little tusks of plant matter probably wanted to wait undisturbed for the Sun’s warmth to penetrate the blanket of earth above them. But such was the issued command, and so I began to brush away last year’s dead leaves...
  • Signs of Life Found Orbiting an Exoplanet–Sort of

    05/29/2013 4:30:15 PM PDT · by lbryce · 89 replies
    Popular Science ^ | March 20, 2008 | Gregory Mone
    Please note that this article was originally published on March 20, 2008. The possible detection of methane in the atmosphere of a distant planet could be the next big step in the search for life outside our solar system Everyone seems to be double-extra-cautiously optimistic about this finding, so don’t go running out to your telescope tonight looking for greetings from friendly space creatures. But in work reported today in Nature, astronomers say they used the Hubble Space Telescope’s infrared imager to pick up signs of methane in the atmosphere of a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a star some 63 million...
  • The Lens We’ll Look Through to Find a New Earth

    04/29/2012 9:48:15 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 11 replies
    Gizmodo ^ | 3/28/12 | Brent Rose
    We have heard a lot about exoplanets in the past year. But for all the talk about these planets, which orbit a star other than our sun, we still haven't actually seen one. One tool could change that, giving us our first look at a distant planet that could be the next best thing to Earth. Currently, scientists detect an extra-solar planet by measuring the dimming of its star as the planet passes between it and our line of sight (this is known as the Transit Method). By observing the way the star's light shines around the planet, it's possible...
  • Thanks to Plants, We Will Never Find a Planet Like Earth

    02/08/2012 6:01:06 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 25 replies · 1+ views
    Scientific American ^ | 2/1/12 | Mark Fischetti
    Earth's flora is responsible for the glaciers and rivers that have created this planet's distinctive landscapeAstronomers are finding lots of exoplanets that are orbiting stars like the sun, significantly raising the odds that we will find a similar world. But if we do, the chance that the surface of that planet will look like ours is very small, thanks to an unlikely culprit: plants. We all know how Earth's landscape came about, right? Oceans and land masses formed, mountains rose, and precipitation washed over its surface; rivers weathered bare rock to create soil and plants took root. Well, new research...
  • Who Needs a Moon?

    05/28/2011 4:43:54 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 30 replies
    Science ^ | 27 May 2011 | Govert Schilling
    BOSTON—The number of Earth-like extrasolar planets suitable for harboring advanced life could be 10 times higher than has been assumed until now, according to a new modeling study. The finding contradicts the prevailing notion that a terrestrial planet needs a large moon to stabilize the orientation of its axis and, hence, its climate. In 1993, French mathematicians Jacques Laskar and Philippe Robutel showed that Earth’s large moon has a stabilizing effect on our planet’s climate. Without the moon, gravitational perturbations from other planets, notably nearby Venus and massive Jupiter, would greatly disturb Earth’s axial tilt, with vast consequences for the...
  • Forests might be detectable on extrasolar planets

    12/13/2010 8:51:20 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 12 replies
    io9 ^ | 12/11/10
    Forests might be detectable on extrasolar planetsThanks to a new remote sensing technique, astronomers may soon be able to detect the presence of multicellular life (like trees) on planets outside of the Solar System. Excitingly, we've been able to detect the composition of atmospheres on a handful of planets orbiting other stars. But if next-generation space observatories go online within the next couple of decades, some scientists propose using a new technique to determine details such as tree-like multicellular life on extrasolar planets. While previous studies have discussed the likelihood of detecting life on exoplanets through signs of biogenic gases...
  • Exciting Hints from the Hunt for Habitable Planets

    08/08/2010 2:14:49 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 29 replies
    Desert News ^ | 08/07/10 | Joe Bauman
    NASA announced some preliminary results of studies by its Kepler probe on June 15: the probe's camera chips had pointed out 706 potential planets in its first 43 days of operation. Though NASA has been issuing cautionary comments, this is thrilling. These are in addition to five planets that were announced earlier by the project, places where life seems extremely unlikely.
  • Team predicts satellite could locate hundreds of Earth-sized planets

    01/12/2010 6:10:18 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 16 replies · 475+ views
    MIT News ^ | 01/12/10 | Morgan Bettex
    The race to find exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — continues to quicken. Last week NASA researchers announced that the agency’s new space telescope, Kepler, has discovered five new exoplanets, expanding the number of known exoplanets to 422, an increase of about 25 percent in the past year alone. A satellite proposed by MIT researchers could accelerate these discoveries and even detect hundreds of Earth-sized planets — a few of which could be natural candidates for life.
  • Astronomers: We could find Earth-like planets soon

    01/07/2010 4:17:04 PM PST · by GL of Sector 2814 · 12 replies · 508+ views
    Yahoo! News ^ | 1/7/2010 | Seth Borenstein
    WASHINGTON – Astronomers say they are on the verge of finding planets like Earth orbiting other stars, a key step in determining if we are alone in the universe. A top NASA official and other leading scientists say that within four or five years they should discover the first Earth-like planet where life could develop, or may have already. A planet close to the size of Earth could even be found sometime this year if preliminary hints from a new space telescope pan out. At the annual American Astronomical Society conference this week, each discovery involving so-called "exoplanets" — those...
  • Scientists Spot Nearby 'Super-Earth'

    12/17/2009 1:40:25 AM PST · by Dallas59 · 37 replies · 1,616+ views
    CNN ^ | 12/16/2009 | CNN
    (CNN) -- Astronomers announced this week they found a water-rich and relatively nearby planet that's similar in size to Earth. While the planet probably has too thick of an atmosphere and is too hot to support life similar to that found on Earth, the discovery is being heralded as a major breakthrough in humanity's search for life on other planets. "The big excitement is that we have found a watery world orbiting a very nearby and very small star," said David Charbonneau, a Harvard professor of astronomy and lead author of an article on the discovery, which appeared this...
  • Towards Other Earths: 32 New Exoplanets Found

    10/19/2009 11:08:33 AM PDT · by xcamel · 34 replies · 992+ views
    Science Daily ^ | 10/19/2009 | staff
    Today, at an international ESO/CAUP exoplanet conference in Porto, the team who built the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, better known as HARPS, the spectrograph for ESO's 3.6-metre telescope, reports on the incredible discovery of some 32 new exoplanets, cementing HARPS's position as the world’s foremost exoplanet hunter. This result also increases the number of known low-mass planets by an impressive 30%. Over the past five years HARPS has spotted more than 75 of the roughly 400 or so exoplanets now known.
  • Recipe for Life: Water and a Little Lava

    06/19/2009 5:33:30 PM PDT · by neverdem · 12 replies · 375+ views
    ScienceNOW Daily News ^ | 15 June 2009 | Phil Berardelli
    Enlarge ImageEbb tide. A planet the size of Earth can be lifeless if tidal forces are strong enough to roil its interior. Credit: P. Marenfeld/NOAO/AURA/NSF Astronomers scanning the skies for another Earth might need to narrow their search. New research suggests that even if a world lies within the Habitable Zone, in which water is liquid, too much or too little volcanic activity can render it lifeless. When assessing a distant planet's habitability, astronomers currently focus on one main criterion: Could the planet have liquid water on its surface? Too close to its sun, and that water evaporates away;...
  • Glimpse of Earth as seen from afar - Lunar eclipse paints portrait of Earth that could aid...

    06/11/2009 11:19:55 PM PDT · by neverdem · 28 replies · 1,589+ views
    Nature News ^ | 10 June 2009 | Eric Hand
    Lunar eclipse paints portrait of Earth that could aid hunt for distant habitable planets.The rosy glow of a lunar eclipse helped astronomers capture the Earth's transmission spectrum.Daniel Lopez Astronomers have seen what the Earth's atmosphere might look like from outer space by using the Moon as a giant mirror. Sunlight that bounced back from the Moon carried a fingerprint of the Earth's atmosphere that could help astronomers determine if the extrasolar planets they're finding harbour life.The astronomers, at Spain's Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, made their observations on 16 August 2008 during a lunar eclipse — in which...
  • Imagining Alien Ecospheres

    03/01/2009 1:46:11 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 6 replies · 321+ views
    A Europan Scenario Between living dirigibles on gas giants and potential organisms under the ice, we’ve had quite a week in terms of exotic life-forms. I didn’t have space in yesterday’s review of Unmasking Europa to talk about the book’s chapter on biology, but here’s an interesting glimpse of a not implausible biosphere on that moon, as presented by physicist Richard Greenberg:
  • Are You Out There, ET? Searches for Habitable Planets Are About to Get a Boost

    02/27/2009 5:10:20 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 17 replies · 283+ views
    Scientific American ^ | 02/27/09 | John Matson
    Next week brings a milestone in the search for extraterrestrial life with the scheduled launch Friday of NASA's Kepler satellite. The mission, named for 16th- and 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler, will study a group of stars for three-plus years in search of subtle, periodic dips in stellar brightness—the telltale signs of planetary orbits. Although more than 300 planets outside the solar system have already been found using this method, among other techniques, Kepler's strength will lie in its instruments' sensitivity to smaller, cooler planets more hospitable to life and more like our own. In a new book, planetary scientist...
  • Detecting Alien Vegetation

    01/21/2009 11:05:44 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 11 replies · 381+ views
    Detecting Alien Vegetation Could we find evidence of vegetation on distant exoplanets? The answer may be yes, according to recent work by Luc Arnold (Observatoire de Haute Provence) and team. If green vegetation on another planet is anything like what we have on Earth, then it will share a distinctive spectral signature called the Vegetation Red Edge, or VRE. The new paper creates climate simulations that explore whether planets with a distinctively different climate than modern Earth’s could be so detected.Two earlier eras are useful here. The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) occurred 21,000 years ago, with global temperatures on...
  • Finding Terrestrial Worlds in the Dust

    10/14/2008 1:09:47 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 3 replies · 330+ views
    Finding Terrestrial Worlds in the Dust October 13th, 2008 Computer simulations are showing us how to detect the signature of Earth-like planets — indeed, planets nearly as small as Mars — around other stars. That interesting news comes out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where a supercomputer named Thunderbird has been put to work studying dusty disks around stars similar to the Sun. Varying the size of the dust particles along with the mass and orbital distance of the planet, the team led by Christopher Stark (University of Maryland) ran 120 different simulations. “It isn’t widely appreciated that planetary...
  • How Long Until We Find a Second Earth?

    10/11/2008 12:59:49 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 42 replies · 1,214+ views
    Discover Magazine ^ | 10/10/08 | Robert Kunzig
    Researchers are racing to find the first planet that might support life as we know it.Gliese 876 is a modest star, just one-third the mass of our sun and only 15 light-years away, but it has a history-making planetary system all its own. In 1998 a team led by Geoff Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley detected the first sign of something interesting there: a giant planet, twice the mass of Jupiter, circling Gliese 876 once every two months, its gravity yanking the star back and forth at the speed of a jet plane. Three years later the...
  • Planets of Iron, Planets of Ice

    09/26/2007 12:01:13 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 32 replies · 106+ views
    How large a planet is depends upon its composition and mass. Earth is largely made of silicates, with a diameter of 7,926 miles at the equator. Imagine an Earth mass planet made of iron and youÂ’re looking at a diameter of a scant 3000 miles. Interestingly, the relationship between mass and diameter follows a similar pattern no matter what material makes up the planet. Running the numbers, an Earth mass planet made of pure water will be 9500 miles across. Sara Seager (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has been studying these things as part of a project to model the kind...
  • Hunting for another Earth-like planet

    08/07/2007 7:38:43 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 12 replies · 302+ views
    BBC News ^ | 08/07/07
    The search for planets orbiting other stars, otherwise known as "exoplanets", is unearthing new discoveries at an ever increasing rate. In fact, this is one of the fastest-developing aspects of humanity's investigation of the Universe. This and other themes are explored in the Open University's new series Cosmos: A Beginner's Guide. At the last count there were at least 244 known exoplanets. More than 40 of these celestial bodies have been discovered in the first seven months of 2007 alone.
  • 28 new extrasolar planets found

    05/29/2007 7:05:26 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 8 replies · 326+ views
    Astronomy ^ | 05/29/07 | David J. Eicher
    On Monday morning at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, an international team of astronomers announced the discovery and identification of 28 new extrasolar planets. This largest-ever announcement, made by post-doctoral fellow Jason T. Wright and newly minted Ph.D. John Asher Johnson, both of the University of California-Berkeley, brings the total number of planets known outside our solar system to 236. "In the last year we've found 37 substellar objects," says Wright, "the 28 new planets constituting more than 10 percent of those now known." Wright reported that 7 of the substellar objects are thought to be brown dwarfs,...
  • Life on another planet? It's not out of this world

    05/05/2007 5:22:44 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 11 replies · 291+ views
    Contra Costa Times ^ | 05/05/07 | MARTIN SNAPP
    When I was growing up in the '50s, there was a long list of things I was told never would happen. A Catholic never would be elected president, there never would be an end to the Cold War and we never would know what killed the dinosaurs. Those predictions turned out to be wrong. John F. Kennedy won the White House in 1960, the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and most scientists now agree that the dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid. However, there was still one thing I was sure I'd never live to see: evidence of life on...
  • New 'super-Earth' found in space [planet found]

    04/25/2007 3:07:03 AM PDT · by FostersExport · 68 replies · 3,055+ views
    BBC News ^ | Wednesday, 25 April 2007 | BBC News
    Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface. The planet orbits the faint star Gliese 581, which is 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra. Scientists made the discovery using the Eso 3.6m Telescope in Chile. They say the benign temperatures on the planet mean any water there could exist in liquid form, and this raises the chances it could also harbour life. "We have estimated that the mean temperature of this 'super-Earth' lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be...
  • First habitable Earth like planet outside Solar System discovered

    04/24/2007 1:41:01 PM PDT · by Sopater · 190 replies · 5,989+ views ^ | April 24, 2007
    Munich, April 24: An international team of astronomers from Switzerland, France and Portugal have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date. The planet has a radius only 50 percent larger than Earth and is very likely to contain liquid water on its surface. The research team used the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) 3.6-m telescope to discover the super-Earth, which has a mass about five times that of the Earth and orbits a red dwarf already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet. Astronomers believe there is a strong possibility in the presence of a third planet with...
  • Many planets may have double suns

    03/29/2007 5:37:34 PM PDT · by Jedi Master Pikachu · 28 replies · 2,849+ views
    BBC ^ | Thursday, March 29, 2007
    In the film Star Wars, Luke Skywalker gazed at a twin sunset from his desert homeworld The dual suns that rise and set over Luke Skywalker's homeworld in the film Star Wars may be more than just fantasy, according to data from Nasa.In a classic scene from the 1977 movie, the hero gazes into the distance as two yellow suns set on the horizon. Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope has found that planetary systems are as common around double stars as they are around single stars, like our own Sun. Details of the research have been published in the Astrophysical...
  • Astronomers hunt for 'exoplanets'

    02/14/2007 6:44:07 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 6 replies · 181+ views
    Christian Science Monitor ^ | 02/15/07 | Robert C. Cowen
    This could be a banner year in the search for alien planets. Earlier this month, a new European satellite began its mission to spot planets as they orbit in front of their stars. Meanwhile, a research team has demonstrated the power of that technique by using Hubble Space Telescope data to trace activity in the outer atmosphere of an alien world. It's the first time such meteorological details have been gathered from a planet in another star system. Astronomers have found 209 "exoplanets," the name they give to alien worlds. More could be reported at any time. Observers have found...
  • Europe goes searching for rocky planets

    10/29/2006 10:25:35 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies · 314+ views
    European Space Agency ^ | 26 October 2006 | unattributed
    One half of the camera is designed to look for planets; the other half is optimised to detect the subtle variation in a star’s light, caused by sound waves rippling across the surface. These waves are the equivalent of seismic waves on the Earth... The technique is known as asteroseismology. ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has been pioneering similar investigations of the Sun for many years. It has proved to be an extremely successful way to probe the internal conditions of a star and astronomers are eager to extend the technique to other stars. COROT will target at least...
  • Models Show One Nearby Star System Could Host Earth-Like Planet

    07/24/2006 5:46:03 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 5 replies · 223+ views
    Newswise ^ | 07/24/06
    Newswise — The steady discovery of giant planets orbiting stars other than our sun has heightened speculation that there could be Earth-type worlds in nearby planetary systems capable of sustaining life. Now researchers running computer simulations for four nearby systems that contain giant planets about the size of Jupiter have found one that could have formed an Earth-like planet with the right conditions to support life. A second system is likely to have a belt of rocky bodies the size of Mars or smaller. The other two, the models show, do not have the proper conditions to form an Earth-size...
  • We're going on a planet hunt

    04/05/2006 7:53:38 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 38 replies · 814+ views
    EurekAlert ^ | 04/05/06 | Claire Bowles
    A FIFTH terrestrial planet may once have orbited between Mars and Jupiter. Although gravitational disturbances would have sent the planet hurtling into the sun or out into space long ago, traces of this long-gone world may still be visible in part of the asteroid belt today. Recent simulations have suggested that the gas giants of our solar system formed with circular orbits but moved into their more elongated paths about 4 billion years ago – 700 million years after the solar system formed. While the gas giants were in circular orbits, rocky planets should have formed in stable orbits out...
  • Hot Jupiters do not rule out alien Earths

    03/31/2006 5:21:28 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 10 replies · 629+ views
    New Scientist Space ^ | 03/31/06 | Maggie McKee
    Habitable, Earth-like planets can form even after giant planets have barrelled through their birthplace on epic migrations towards their host stars, new computer simulations suggest. The finding contradicts early ideas of how planets behave and suggests future space missions should search for terrestrial planets near known "hot Jupiters". Many of the 160 or so known extrasolar planets are hot Jupiters - massive planets that are closer to their stars than Mercury is to our Sun. But the planets probably did not form in these scorching regions because there would not have been enough gas and dust there to amass such...
  • NASA Announces Spitzer Planet Finder Update

    03/29/2006 3:36:14 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 5 replies · 222+ views
    NASA ^ | 03/29/06 | Erica Hupp
    NASA Announces Spitzer Planet Finder Update Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope will hold a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 5 to announce the discovery of a strange place where planets might be forming.
  • Astronomer hopes to spot an inviting planet or two

    03/20/2006 5:36:27 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 8 replies · 254+ views
    Baltimore Sun ^ | 03/19/06 | Dennis O'Brien
    Marc Kuchner at Goddard Space Flight Center is aiming to attack a question that has puzzled us since we first peered into the heavens: Are we alone in the universe? Kuchner came to the Greenbelt research center six months ago from Princeton to step up a search for habitable Earth-like planets outside our solar system. He is writing a proposal for NASA funding for a new space hunting probe and, over the next few years, plans to hire a staff of five or six researchers for the fledgling ExoPlanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory. The size of the staff will depend...
  • Super-Sized Rocky Planet Found

    03/14/2006 6:39:47 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 25 replies · 764+ views ^ | 03/14/06 | Irene Klotz
    March 14, 2006— A team of astronomers has discovered a large, ice-rock planet that dominates a distant solar system, much like Jupiter reigns in our bit of Milky Way real estate. Taking into account other discoveries of extrasolar planets, the finding of an Earth-class planet leads scientists to theorize that the type of planetary system that develops around a star depends on the size of the star.
  • Searching for rocky worlds

    03/13/2006 5:41:50 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 8 replies · 272+ views
    ESA Portal ^ | 03/10/06
    Due for launch in 2006, Corot will be the first mission capable of detecting rocky planets outside our Solar System. This week EuroNews takes a closer look at this 30-centimetre diameter space telescope which will be able to detect tiny changes in brightness from nearby stars.
  • Top 10 List of Habitable Stars to Guide Search

    02/21/2006 8:26:19 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 24 replies · 498+ views ^ | 02/21/06 | Ker Than
    The search for alien life outside our solar system has been made a little less daunting thanks to a new list drawn up by astronomer Margaret Turnbull that includes the known stars most likely to support habitable stellar systems. Turnbull, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, listed 10 of what she believes are likely to be habitable stellar systems, or “habstars,” capable of supporting Earth-like planets and life. The list was presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis. Five of the stars on the list are thought...
  • Looking for other Earths? Here’s a list

    02/19/2006 12:10:25 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 116 replies · 1,496+ views ^ | 02/19/06 | Alan Boyle
    ST. LOUIS - An astronomer involved in a NASA mission to look for Earthlike planets beyond our solar system has winnowed through thousands of stars to come up with a top-10 list that includes some of the favorite haunts for science-fiction aliens. Actually, the lineup from Margaret Turnbull at the Carnegie Institute of Washington is broken down into two top-five lists: one for the radio-based search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, and the other for the NASA mission, known as the Terrestrial Planet Finder. The SETI stars will be on the list of targets for the privately funded Allen Telescope...
  • Astronomer announces shortlist of stellar candidates for habitable worlds

    02/18/2006 1:26:06 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 14 replies · 575+ views
    EurekaAlert ^ | 02/18/06 | Earl Lane
    In the search for life on other worlds, scientists can listen for radio transmissions from stellar neighborhoods where intelligent civilizations might lurk or they can try to actually spot planets like our own in habitable zones around nearby stars. Either approach is tricky and relies on choosing the right targets for scrutiny out of the many thousands of nearby stars in our galactic neighborhood. Margaret Turnbull, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has devoted herself to the painstaking search for candidate stars that may harbor zones of habitability where life--primitive or otherwise-- might thrive. Turnbull announced her shortlist...
  • Building Blocks of Life Found in Planet-Forming Disk

    12/20/2005 7:17:35 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 30 replies · 695+ views ^ | 12/20/05
    he basic molecules of life are scattered through the universe, collecting in faraway galactic clouds, on passing comets and asteroids, and on the planets here in our solar system. But scientists still don’t know how these molecules came to be, or how they originally came together to form life. Now, for the first time ever, astronomers have found some of the basic compounds necessary to build organic molecules and proteins found in DNA within the inner regions of a planet-forming disk. “We see prebiotic organic molecules in comets and the gas giant planets in our own solar system and wonder,...
  • Spitzer Team Says Debris Disk Could Be Forming Infant Terrestrial Planets

    12/15/2005 6:18:11 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 9 replies · 268+ views ^ | 12/14/05 | Lori Stiles
    Astronomers have found a debris disk around a sun-like star that may be forming or has formed its terrestrial planets. The disk - a probable analog to our asteroid belt - may have begun a solar-system-scale demolition derby, where the rocky remains of failed planets collide chaotically. "This is one of a very rare class of objects that may give us a glimpse into what our solar system may have looked like during the formation of our terrestrial planets," said Dean C. Hines of the Space Science Institute, a leader of the team that discovered the rare objects with NASA's...
  • Optical Vortex Coronagraph Could Look Directly At Extrasolar Planets

    12/01/2005 7:51:55 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 6 replies · 555+ views ^ | 12/01/05
    A new optical device might allow astronomers to view extrasolar planets directly without the annoying glare of the parent star. It would do this by "nulling" out the light of the parent star by exploiting its wave nature, leaving the reflected light from the nearby planet to be observed in space-based detectors. The device, called an optical vortex coronagraph, is described in the December 15, 2005 issue of Optics Letters. About ten years ago the presence of planets around stars other than our sun was first deduced by the very tiny wobble in the star's spectrum of light imposed by...
  • NASA's Spitzer Finds Failed Stars May Succeed In Planet Business

    10/24/2005 7:01:23 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 8 replies · 225+ views ^ | 10/24/05
    NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted the very beginnings of what might become planets around the puniest of celestial orbs - brown dwarfs, or "failed stars." The telescope's infrared eyes have for the first time detected clumps of microscopic dust grains and tiny crystals orbiting five brown dwarfs. These clumps and crystals are thought to collide and further lump together to eventually make planets. Similar materials are seen in planet-forming regions around stars and in comets, the remnants of our own solar system's construction.
  • Triple Sunset: Planet Discovered in 3-Star System

    07/13/2005 5:07:51 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 43 replies · 1,006+ views ^ | 07/13/05 | Michael Schirber
    A newly discovered planet has bountiful sunshine, with not one, not two, but three suns glowing in its sky. It is the first extrasolar planet found in a system with three stars. How a planet was born amidst these competing gravitational forces will be a challenge for planet formation theories. "The environment in which this planet exists is quite spectacular," said Maciej Konacki from the California Institute of Technology. "With three suns, the sky view must be out of this world -- literally and figuratively." The triple-star system, HD 188753, is located 149 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The...
  • European Astronomers set sights on Earth-like planets and the first starlight

    07/07/2005 5:36:22 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 3 replies · 265+ views
    PPARC ^ | 07/07/05
    Astronomers from across Europe today (July 7th) took a step closer to making their plans for a giant telescope a reality when they unveiled the scientific case for an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) - a monster telescope with a light capturing mirror of between 50 and 100 metres, dwarfing all previous optical telescope facilities. The announcement was made at a meeting in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands and initiates the design phase of the project. Astronomers plan to use the ELT to search for planets like the Earth in other star systems and to find out when the first stars in the...
  • NZ amateur astronomers help find distant planet

    05/24/2005 5:34:16 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 5 replies · 410+ views
    STUFF ^ | 05/25/05
    Two amateur New Zealand astronomers have played a central role in the discovery of one of the most distant planets ever found, using a pioneering technique that might one day find a world similar to our own. Astronomer Grant Christie, of Espom in Auckland, and a colleague from Stardome Observatory, Jennie McCormick, who built an observatory at her Pakuranga home, used telescopes plenty of serious space scientists would scoff at.
  • Planet find offers hope of new 'Earth'

    05/24/2005 4:23:08 PM PDT · by KevinDavis · 74 replies · 1,343+ views
    The Australian ^ | 05/24/05
    AUSTRALIAN researchers today told how they helped discover a huge planet in the Milky Way galaxy. The Tasmanian astronomers used a new scientific technique to detect the planet, renewing hopes of finding Earth-like planets.