Tagged With exoplanets

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A few years ago, astronomers discovered a bizarre object in orbit around a distant star. Preliminary research suggested an exoplanet with an oversized ring system roughly 200 times larger than Saturn's. Researchers have now proven that this dramatic celestial structure is indeed possible — but for it to work, the rings need to spin in the wrong direction.

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If you could hop in a time-travelling spacecraft, go back three billion years and land any place in our solar system, where would you want to end up? Earth, with its barren continents and unbreathable atmosphere? Or Mars, a chillier version its big brother? Wait, what about Venus?

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Since the 1960s, the Drake Equation has been used to predict how many communicative extraterrestrial civilisations exist in the Milky Way galaxy. Along these same lines, a new formula seeks to estimate the frequency at which life emerges on a planet — a calculation that might allow us to figure out the likelihood of life arising elsewhere in the universe.

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In a few billion years, the oceans will boil away and the atmosphere will burn up as our sun expands into a red giant. It will be game-over for life on Earth, but in the outer solar system, the party will just be getting started. Europa and Enceladus will melt into ocean moons, offering a refuge for any post humanoid life forms fleeing their lava-soaked homeland.

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University archives are treasure troves of historic information, but it's not every day they produce scientific discoveries. But now, a 1917 astronomical glass plate from the Cargenie Observatory's collection is offering the oldest evidence for a planet orbiting another star — besting the first confirmed exoplanet detection by more than 70 years.

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Forget UFOs — there are a lot of objects and events in space that are identified, but still completely incomprehensible. From planets in our solar system, to inexplicable energy bursts from across the universe, here are some of the enduring mysteries of the space and time we call home.