exoplanets

Kepler Just Discovered A New Super-Earth, Against All Odds 

In May 2013, NASA’s exoplanet-seeking spacecraft, Kepler, seemed doomed. Two of four wheels that stabilised its telescope had malfunctioned — and NASA appealed to scientists from around the world for ideas to salvage its mission. Yesterday, it announced the discovery of a brand-new super-Earth 180 light years from our own.


This Giant Rainbow Was Made With Tech That's Used To Study Exoplanets

It’s not very often that the fields of advanced photonics and installation art meet. But in Amsterdam this week, visitors to the city’s Central Station are getting a look at what happens when liquid crystal optic technology is used to something completely unscientific: Make public art.


You Can Discover New Planets With A DSLR 

Wouldn’t it be cool to discover a planet circling a lonely star light years away from Earth? Maybe you’d even get to name it. Actually exploring deep space is hard, but as IEEE Spectrum’s David Schneider points out, detecting exoplanets is pretty simple, simple enough that a basic DSLR and a telephoto lens can do it.


Exo-Earths And The Search For Life Elsewhere: A Brief History

Ever since humans first looked up at the night sky, we have wondered whether we are alone in the universe. Dreams of life beyond Earth pervade literature, TV shows and drive Hollywood blockbusters – but the truth of life beyond the Earth continues to evade us.


How Would Alien Astronomers Find Earth?

This weekend, astronomers announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planet anyone has identified yet. The search of habitable planets is intensifying — and, with it, questions about whether we’re looking for the exoplanets the right way. For starters, figuring out how Earth would look to aliens is actually pretty useful.


The Lick Observatory's Newest Telescope Is An Exoplanet Hunting Robot

Exoplanets — planets orbiting stars that aren’t our Sun — seem to be popping out of the cosmic woodwork now that we know where and how to look for them. The Kepler mission alone has discovered 961 of them, and it’s only looking at a tiny sliver of distant space. Just think of how many we’ll find when the new James Lick robotic telescope comes online and starts surveying one thousand of our closest solar neighbours.


The Number Of Known Planets In The Universe Just Doubled

NASA’s $US600 million Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a few new planets. Actually, Kepler data revealed 715 new exoplanets. That’s astonishing. It’s actually twice as many as we previously thought existed. The number of known Earth-sized planets also just quadrupled.


Astronomers: Super-Earths Have Oceans And Continents, Just Like Earth

A pair of Chicago-based astronomers have some good news for you alien-hunters out there. Despite previous assumptions, geophysics tell us that large Earth-like exoplanets (a.k.a. super-Earths) likely have both oceans and exposed continents. That means more Earth-like climates too.


Astronomers Find That Nearby Earth-Like Planet Is Covered In Clouds Too

Two studies recently published in Nature set a new standard for so-called “Earth-like” exoplanets. Research into atmospheric conditions show that GJ 1214b, one of the exoplanets closest to Earth, is covered in clouds, just like Earth.


Astronomers Figured Out How To Weigh Entire Planets Using Starlight

Weighing a planet is a tough task. I mean, it’s not like you can just put them on a bathroom scale. And, while astronomers figured out how to measure the mass of planets in our solar system a long time ago, it’s practically impossible to weigh exoplanets. Well, it was until recently.


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