Posts tagged exoplanets
For the first time, astronomers have discovered a sun-like star playing host to a “habitable zone” exoplanet located inside the Milky Way’s galactic bulge — some 25,000 light-years distant — using a quirk of Einstein’s general relativity.
But don’t go having dreams of exotic getaways to the glistening lights of the center of our galaxy, this exoplanet is a huge gas giant world, about five times the mass of Jupiter. However, there is something (potentially) very exciting about this new discovery. Like Jupiter, this newly discovered giant exoplanet may possess small satellites; exomoons that could have life-giving potential. Read more
As far as planets go, HD 189733b, a giant, sizzling Jupiter-like world that swoops around its parent star every 2.2 days, couldn’t be more different from Earth. But the planet, located 63 light-years away in the constellation Vulpecula (the Fox), has one feature that is familiar: it’s blue.
When it comes to forming planets, Mother Nature isn’t very picky. Despite horrific conditions inside densely packed open clusters, stars apparently have no problem forming and hanging on to an orbital brood. That’s the conclusion from a new study that used data collected by NASA’s now-dormant Kepler space telescope to hunt for planets in a one-billion-year old open cluster called NGC 6811, a collection of about 70 stars located about 3,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. Read more.
Don’t get too excited, an exoplanet hasn’t really been captured from the cosmic wilds. And no, one of NASA’s boffins isn’t really taking a pair of tongs to the upper atmosphere of a strangely tiny “hot-Jupiter” being baked by a Bunsen burner. The doctored photo is actually a fun metaphor for this golden age of exoplanetary science. In particularly, it illustrates what one NASA space telescope is doing to understand the chemistry and dynamics of a particular Jupiter-sized exoplanet located some 385 light-years away.
Pulling from 20 years of research since the first discoveries of planets beyond our solar system, scientists have concluded that Earth and its sibling worlds comprise what appears to be a relatively rare breed in a diverse cosmic zoo that includes a huge variety of planet sizes, orbits and parent stars. Read more
Two Earth-sized planets have been discovered orbiting Kepler-62, a star approximately 1,200 light-years away, inside its habitable zone. Which, quite frankly, is bonkers.
“We’re particularly delighted to find that there are two planets in the habitable zone.” — lead Kepler scientist William Borucki
"Nevertheless, statistically that would mean six percent of all red dwarf stars should have a Earth-sized planet, Dressing said, adding that since 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs, the nearest Earth-like world may be just 13 light-years away."
The planet of interest is estimated to be about 4.3 times more massive than Earth. If confirmed, the planet would be the smallest yet discovered in a star’s habitable zone, say scientists who will be publishing their research in an upcoming issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Now THAT is pretty significant. Read more
Comets Lay Siege Around Nearby Star Systems: These new observations hold a special relevance to the origins of planetary oceans, and by extension, the habitability of Earth and the potential habitability of exoplanets. The absence of large Saturn- to Jupiter-mass worlds means that these star systems likely avoided the heavy bombardment of comets the inner solar system received and, instead, are experiencing a steady rain of comets. The comets of Gliese 581 and 61 Virginis are in it for the long-haul, laying siege.