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
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?
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!
The search for planets beyond our solar system is going to be expanded by the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, the latest space-based observatory from NASA.Read More TESS Mission from NASA Set to Seek Out New Worlds