A distant, Neptune-size planet 500 light-years from Earth appears to be the youngest fully formed exoplanet ever found crossing its star, raising questions about how it formed so close, so quickly.
Researchers first found the planet, which whisks around its star every five days, using the Kepler space telescope currently orbiting Earth. Its star is only 5 million to 10 million years old, suggesting that the planet is a similar age — incredibly young, on a cosmic scale. Researchers said it was the youngest planet spotted fully formed around a distant star, and it is nearly 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to the sun. Continue reading Rare Newborn Planet May Be the Youngest Ever Detected
A new analysis of data collected during the Kepler space telescope’s prime planet-hunting mission shows that 1,284 candidate planets are indeed confirmed exoplanets, boosting the current tally of worlds beyond the solar system to 3,264. Continue reading Kepler Space Telescope Confirms 1,284 New Planets
Our knowledge of exoplanet science has just advanced by many decades. Long before the first confirmed planetary finds in the 1990s, an observer in 1917 caught evidence of planetary debris around a new star, new research reveals.
The evidence came from an astronomical glass plate from the Carnegie Observatories’ Collection that observed a white dwarf, the core of a star like our sun that has since died and shed its gassy layers. Continue reading 100 Years Ago an Exoplanet was Unknowingly Discovered
As Luke Skywalker gazed longingly across the plains surrounding his aunt and uncle’s desert dwelling as the binary stars of Tatoo set over the horizon, imagine how much better that classic “Star Wars” scene would have looked if there were three suns! Continue reading Forget Tatooine, This Exoplanet Has THREE Suns
What if an advanced alien civilization saw our planet across the interstellar expanse and switched on their powerful radio transmitters to send a “hello neighbor!” message… but all of our radio antennae were staring at KIC 8462852 when we really should be paying attention to Omicron Persei. Continue reading Seeking the Aliens Who Are Looking Right At Us
For the first time, a super-Earth’s atmosphere has been analyzed — but don’t make any vacation plans to visit. The planet is blisteringly close to its planet star (exhibiting temperatures of 3,600 Fahrenheit or 2,000 Celsius) and has an atmosphere mostly made up of hydrogen and helium, like a gas giant planet. Continue reading Hubble Studies ‘Super-Earth’ Atmosphere for First Time
Planetary formation remains one of the biggest puzzles in modern astronomy. Although we know that the vast majority of stars possess systems of planets — from tiny Mercury-sized rocky worlds to massive gas giants that would dwarf Jupiter — mysteries remain as to how material accretes to form small planetoids and how long it takes for these planetary embryos to plump-up into what we would consider to be planets. Continue reading ALMA Spies Baby Stars’ Planetary Workshops