Posts tagged exoplanets
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.
did we just find a habitable super-Earth?! Yup!
Scientists added three new planets to three discovered in 2008 orbiting an orange star called HD 40307, which is roughly three-quarters as massive as the sun and located about 42 light-years away in the constellation Pictor.
Of particular interest is the outermost planet, which is believed to fly around its parent star over 320 days, a distance that places it within HD 40307’s so-called “habitable zone.”
“All we know at this point is that it has a minimum mass of about 7.1 Earth-masses. We have no explicit follow-up planned, thought the HARPS team is probably still gathering more data, and may in the future be able to confirm these results, and perhaps add even more planets to the brood,” astronomer Steven Vogt, with the University of California’s Lick Observatory, wrote in an email to Discovery News.
Based on our experience with other star systems this newly discovered planet is likely made of rock and may contain water. It receives 62 percent of the radiation from its star that Earth receives from the sun, but Earth is relatively near to the leading edge of the habitable zone.
Astronomers believe they have found a planet about two-thirds the size of Earth orbiting a star 33 light-years away, a virtual neighbor in cosmic terms.
Don’t pack your suitcase yet. The planet, known as UCF-1.01, is not very hospitable, with temperatures that exceed 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a surface that may be volcanic or molten and little if any atmosphere.
Image: Artist’s rendering of suspected exoplanet UCF-1.01. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt