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Keyword: exoplanets

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    02/23/2018 9:21:36 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 41 replies
    SYFYWire ^ | 22 Feb, 2017 | Phil Plait
    Despite being only 4.3 light-years away from Earth, the trio of stars comprising Alpha Centauri still holds a lot of mysteries. It being the closest star system to us, you'd think we'd have teased out most of its secrets by now, but in fact we're still learning basic stuff about it. We know some of the basics, of course. The system has two stars that orbit each other in a binary, one of which (called Alpha Centauri A) is much like the Sun and the other (Alpha Cen B) is a tad smaller and cooler. Nearby is a third star,...
  • To find aliens, we must think of life as we don’t know it

    09/21/2017 4:33:12 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 62 replies
    Aeon ^ | Ramin Skibba
    From blob-like jellyfish to rock-like lichens, our planet teems with such diversity of life that it is difficult to recognise some organisms as even being alive. That complexity hints at the challenge of searching for life as we don’t know it – the alien biology that might have taken hold on other planets, where conditions could be unlike anything we’ve seen before. ‘The Universe is a really big place. Chances are, if we can imagine it, it’s probably out there on a planet somewhere,’ said Morgan Cable, an astrochemist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. ‘The question is,...
  • NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

    02/23/2017 7:20:25 AM PST · by Red Badger · 35 replies ^ | Feb. 22, 2017 | RELEASE 17-015
    NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the...
  • 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 · 15 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;...