Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have discovered 18 planets orbiting other stars. These exoplanets were found in data collected by the now-defunct Kepler space telescope. By analyzing data with a new algorithm, astronomers can now detect the gradual dimming of light seen as small planets pass between their suns and the Earth, Researchers hope this new tool will help find as many as 100 new worlds to add to the 4,000 planets already known beyond our solar system.Read More Another 18 Earth-sized Planets Discovered — One is EPIC!
Astronomers found a young solar system, looking much like our own did, billions of years in the past. Located 470 light years from Earth, the star DM Tau is surrounded by a disk of dust and gas, which show two rings where planets are forming, located at roughly the same distances as the asteroid belt and Neptune in our own solar system. The star, believed to be between three and five million years old, is seen in the constellation of Taurus the Bull.Read More Solar System Much Like Ours Found Forming Around Alien Star
Binary stars may be more likely to harbor life than once believed. Astronomers thought, until now, that life was unlikely to form in systems containing two or more stars. However, a new computer model developed by an undergraduate student of astronomy shows that as binary stars form in stellar nurseries, they are often passed by a third sun. Gravity from this passer-by can draw the two binary stars closer together, increasing the amount of area warm enough for liquid water to pool on planets. Water is necessary for life on Earth to exist, and planets with water are thought to be more likely to harbor life.Read More Binary Stars May be Likely to Harbor Life, After All
Astronomers have long theorized that planetary systems can be affected by stars passing near solar systems. However, direct evidence of this has never been seen, until now.
Sitting 300 light years from Earth, the star HD 106906 is accompanied by a planet 11 times the size of Jupiter, orbiting the pair of binary stars 738 times further away than the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Computer simulations show that roughly 12 million years ago, another pair of stars passed the system, altering the orbit of this giant world, pulling it far from its stellar companions. Had the encounter not taken place, this world would have crashed into the stars around which it orbits.
The SPHEREx space telescope will launch in 2023, NASA reports. This orbiting observatory will map 100,000 stars in our galaxy and 300,000 other galaxies over the entire sky. The telescope will record in infrared light, similar to some forms of night vision technology, The robotic mission will examine stellar birthplaces, searching for water. It will also turn its eyes to watch planets form around alien stars.Read More Meet SPHEREx – NASA’s Newest Mission to Explore the Early Universe, Launching in 2023
The Kepler spacecraft has sent its final images to Earth, ending a decade of hunting for planets beyond our solar system. The spacecraft was utilized in the discovery of more than 2,600 of these exoplanets. Just 35 years ago, astronomers did not know of any planets beyond our own stellar family, while today, we know of thousands of such alien worlds, Most of these discoveries were made using the Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009. The observatory ran out of fuel in October 2018, and was placed in a safe orbit prior to shutdown.Read More Good Night, Dear Kepler — Planet-Hunting Telescope Sends Last Images to Earth; Is That Tetris?
Astronomers at the SETI Institute are estimating that the human race will likely make contact with an alien species sometime in the next 25 years. Science writer James Maynard released a new look on thecosmiccompanion.com seeing what aliens may look like, based on the laws of science and evolution. Such aliens, he finds, are likely to have legs and some form of two or more eyes, and have a kind communication. Other than those features, extraterrestrials may have little in common with life on Earth.Read More Preparing for E.T. – What do Aliens Look Like?
A newly discovered super-Earth, Barnard b, may be capable of supporting alien life, researchers at Villanova University report. This world is roughly three times larger than the Earth, and experiences frigid temperatures. However, if it is a rocky world with a molten core, like Earth and Venus, this could provide enough heat to create oceans of liquid water that could support life. Astronomers are still uncertain if Bernard b has a solid surface, or if it is a gaseous world, similar to Uranus and Neptune. The next generation of telescopes may be able to make that determination, and possibly detect life if it exists on that alien world.Read More Could Alien Life Exist on Barnard b? It’s Possible!
A strange exoplanet sitting 53 light years from Earth has been discovered by astronomers using the TESS spacecraft. This world is three times larger than the Earth, but 23 times as dense. This suggests it is likely surrounded by a thick atmosphere, denser than that seen on Uranus or Neptune. The planet, HD 2172b, speeds around its parent star once every 36 days. This is the third confirmed planet found by TESS, although astronomers are looking through data showing more than 280 other potential worlds.Read More Weird Exoplanet Discovered by TESS Spacecraft – Strange World, Indeed!
A new exoplanet orbiting Bernard’s Star, just six light years from Earth, has been detected by astronomers. This frozen world orbits the cool red dwarf star at about the same distance as that which separates the Sun and Mercury. Life is unlikely to be found on the frigid surface, but the techniques used to discovery this world could allow astronomers to find a treasure trove of other worlds orbiting alien stars.Read More Howdy Neighbor! Frozen Super-Earth Discovered Orbiting Bernard’s Star