exoplanet hunting

Accelerating exoplanet discovery using chemical fingerprints of stars

Accelerating exoplanet discovery using chemical fingerprints of stars

Stars are born when huge clouds of dust and gas collapse in on themselves and ignite. These clouds are made up of raw elements, like oxygen and titanium, and each cloud has a unique composition that imprints on the star. And within the stellar afterbirth – from the material that didn’t find its way into the star – planets are formed.

Two Earth-Like Worlds Found Orbiting a Red Dwarf Only 12.5 Light-Years Away!

Two Earth-Like Worlds Found Orbiting a Red Dwarf Only 12.5 Light-Years Away!

In the past few decades, there has been an explosion in the number of planets discovered beyond our Solar System. With over 4,000 confirmed exoplanets to date, the process has gradually shifted from discovery towards characterization. This consists of using refined techniques to determine just how likely a planet is to be habitable.

New Instrument is Searching for Planets Around Alpha Centauri

New Instrument is Searching for Planets Around Alpha Centauri

Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to us, at 4.37 light-years (about 25 trillion miles) away. In 2016, astronomers discovered an exoplanet orbiting one of the three stars in the Alpha Centauri system. Spurred on by that discovery, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has developed a new instrument to find any other planets that might be in the Alpha Centauri system, and it’s busy looking right now.

Now that TESS is Operational, Astronomers Estimate it’ll Find 14,000 Planets. 10 Could Be Earthlike Worlds in a Sunlike Star’s Habitable Zone

Now that TESS is Operational, Astronomers Estimate it’ll Find 14,000 Planets. 10 Could Be Earthlike Worlds in a Sunlike Star’s Habitable Zone

How many exoplanets are there? Not that long ago, we didn’t know if there were any. Then we detected a few around pulsars. Then the Kepler spacecraft was launched and it discovered a couple thousand more. Now NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) is operational, and a new study predicts its findings.

Stellar Dust Survey Paves Way for Exoplanet Missions

Stellar Dust Survey Paves Way for Exoplanet Missions

Veils of dust wrapped around distant stars could make it difficult for scientists to find potentially habitable planets in those star systems. The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems, or HOSTS, survey was tasked with learning more about the effect of dust on the search for new worlds. The goal is to help guide the design of future planet-hunting missions. In a new paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, HOSTS scientists report on the survey’s initial findings.

Artificial Intelligence, NASA Data Used to Discover Eighth Planet Circling Distant Star

Artificial Intelligence, NASA Data Used to Discover Eighth Planet Circling Distant Star

Our solar system now is tied for most number of planets around a single star, with the recent discovery of an eighth planet circling Kepler-90, a Sun-like star 2,545 light-years from Earth. The planet was discovered in data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

Inferno World with Titanium Skies - ESO’s VLT makes first detection of titanium oxide in an exoplanet!

Inferno World with Titanium Skies - ESO’s VLT makes first detection of titanium oxide in an exoplanet!

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have detected titanium oxide in an exoplanet atmosphere for the first time. This discovery around the hot-Jupiter planet WASP-19b exploited the power of the FORS2 instrument. It provides unique information about the chemical composition and the temperature and pressure structure of the atmosphere of this unusual and very hot world. The results appear today in the journal Nature.

Exoplanet-hunters detect two new 'Warm Jupiters'

Exoplanet-hunters detect two new 'Warm Jupiters'

The study of extra-solar planets has turned up some rather interesting candidates in the past few years. As of August 1st, 2017, a total of 3,639 exoplanets have been discovered in 2,729 planetary systems and 612 multiple planetary systems. Many of these discoveries have challenged conventional thinking about planets, especially where their sizes and distances from their suns are concerned.

Flares May Threaten Planet Habitability Near Red Dwarfs

Flares May Threaten Planet Habitability Near Red Dwarfs

Cool dwarf stars are hot targets for exoplanet hunting right now. The discoveries of planets in the habitable zones of the TRAPPIST-1 and LHS 1140 systems, for example, suggest that Earth-sized worlds might circle billions of red dwarf stars, the most common type of star in our galaxy. But, like our own sun, many of these stars erupt with intense flares. Are red dwarfs really as friendly to life as they appear, or do these flares make the surfaces of any orbiting planets inhospitable?