By studying the electromagnetic spectrum of a star’s light, you can see what elements it contains. You can also deduce its age, mass, stability and spin. As astronomical techniques and technologies have become more sophisticated, alien planets that would have otherwise remained invisible can also be detected via their gravitational tug on their host star. Continue reading Star’s Wobble Could Reveal ‘Earth-Like’ Exoplanet
Astronomers have, for the first time, mapped a nearby “super-Earth” exoplanet to find that one hemisphere is almost completely molten rock, while the other half is almost completely solid.
The study used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to produce a precision temperature (exo-)map of 55 Cancri e, which is approximately 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cancer. This is the first time such a map has been produced of such a small rocky world around 8-times the mass of Earth. Continue reading 2-Faced Exoplanet Is Both Solid and Molten Rock
The hunt is on! NASA has begun a quest to select its next big instrument to study the cosmos.
Observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope have revolutionized humanity’s view of the cosmos. And upcoming projects, such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the WFIRST-AFTA mission — which the agency aims to launch in 2018 and the mid-2020s, respectively — promise to make big discoveries of their own. Continue reading NASA’s Next Great Space Telescope: The Quest Begins
An orphan planet free-floating in space more than 100 light-years from Earth may have a parent star after all, though the relationship could hardly be considered close.
New research shows the planet, a massive world 11 to 15 times bigger than Jupiter, may be orbiting its host star about 7,000 times farther away than Earth circles the sun. Continue reading Orphan Planet May Have Estranged Parent Star
Old, dense and isolated clusters of stars might be the perfect place to find intelligent life beyond Earth, say scientists who presented a study about how so-called “globular clusters” may be a cradle of life for advanced civilizations.
“If they house planets, globular clusters provide ideal environments for advanced civilizations that can survive over long times,” astronomer Rosanne Di Stefano, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a summary of a paper to be presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Kissimmee, Fla., this week. Continue reading Looking for ET? Try a Globular Cluster