habitable exoplanets

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.

The Closest Star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, has a Planet in the Habitable Zone. Life Could be There Right Now!

The Closest Star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, has a Planet in the Habitable Zone. Life Could be There Right Now!

In August of 2016, astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced the discovery of an exoplanet in the neighboring system of Proxima Centauri. The news was greeted with consider excitement, as this was the closest rocky planet to our Solar System that also orbited within its star’s habitable zone. Since then, multiple studies have been conducted to determine if this planet could actually support life.

Which Habitable Zones are the Best to Actually Search for Life?

Which Habitable Zones are the Best to Actually Search for Life?

Looking to the future, NASA and other space agencies have high hopes for the field of extra-solar planet research. In the past decade, the number of known exoplanets has reached just shy of 4000, and many more are expected to be found once next-generations telescopes are put into service. And with so many exoplanets to study, research goals have slowly shifted away from the process of discovery and towards characterization.

Rocky? Habitable? Sizing up a Galaxy of Planets

Rocky? Habitable? Sizing up a Galaxy of Planets

The planets so far discovered across the Milky Way are a motley, teeming multitude: hot Jupiters, gas giants, small, rocky worlds and mysterious planets larger than Earth and smaller than Neptune. As we prepare to add many thousands more to the thousands found already, the search goes on for evidence of life – and for a world something like our own.

The Closest Planet Ever Discovered Outside the Solar System Could be Habitable With a Dayside Ocean

The Closest Planet Ever Discovered Outside the Solar System Could be Habitable With a Dayside Ocean

In of August of 2016, astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet around Proxima Centauri – the closest star to our Solar System. In addition, they confirmed that this planet (Proxima b) orbited within its star’s habitable zone. Since that time, multiple studies have been conducted to determine if Proxima b could in fact be habitable.

Trappist-1 planets might actually have too much water to be habitable

Trappist-1 planets might actually have too much water to be habitable

70,000 years ago, our keen-eyed ancestors may have noticed something in the sky: a red dwarf star that came as close as 1 light year to our Sun. They would’ve missed the red dwarf’s small, dim companion—a brown dwarf—and in any case they would’ve quickly returned to their hunting and gathering. But that star’s visit to our Solar System had an impact astronomers can still see today.

Researchers Determine the Two TRAPPIST-1 Planets Most Likely to Support Life

Researchers Determine the Two TRAPPIST-1 Planets Most Likely to Support Life

Last year, NASA astronomers announced the discovery of a solar system with seven Earth-like planets. The TRAPPIST-1 system marked not only the highest number of Earth-like planets ever found around a star, but also the highest number in the “habitable zone,” a region where temperatures aren’t so extreme as to extinguish the planets’ chances of supporting life.

One Scientist Has a Plan to Send the Building Blocks of Life to Distant Exoplanets

One Scientist Has a Plan to Send the Building Blocks of Life to Distant Exoplanets

A German theoretical physicist has proposed a modification to the first-ever interstellar spacecraft that would allow it to decelerate enough to orbit an exoplanet and potentially seed a second Earth. However, the 12,000-year-long transit time could make garnering support for the mission difficult.

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.

Three possible super-earths discovered around nearby sun-like star!

Three possible super-earths discovered around nearby sun-like star!

Since it was launched in 2009, NASA’s Kepler mission has continued to make important exoplanet discoveries. Even after the failure of two reaction wheels, the space observatory has found new life in the form of its K2 mission. All told, this space observatory has detected 5,017 candidates and confirmed the existence of 2,494 exoplanets using the Transit Method during its past eight years in service.

NASA Announces 10, That's Right 10! New Planets in Their Star's Habitable Zone

NASA Announces 10, That's Right 10! New Planets in Their Star's Habitable Zone

The Kepler space telescope is surely the gift that keeps on giving. After being deployed in 2009, it went on to detect a total of 2,335 confirmed exoplanets and 582 multi-planet systems. Even after two of its reaction wheels failed, it carried on with its K2 mission, which has discovered an additional 520 candidates, 148 of which have been confirmed. And with yet another extension, which will last beyond 2018, it shows no signs of stopping!

Could the Closest Extrasolar Planet be Habitable? Astronomers Plan to Find Out

Could the Closest Extrasolar Planet be Habitable? Astronomers Plan to Find Out

The extra-solar planet known as Proxima b has occupied a special place in the public mind ever since its existence was announced in August of 2016. As the closest exoplanet to our Solar System, its discovery has raised questions about the possibility of exploring it in the not-too-distant future. And even more tantalizing are the questions relating to its potential habitability.

Huge news, seven earth-sized worlds orbiting a red dwarf, three in the habitable zone

Huge news, seven earth-sized worlds orbiting a red dwarf, three in the habitable zone

In what is surely the biggest news since the hunt for exoplanets began, NASA announced today the discovery of a system of seven exoplanets orbiting the nearby star of TRAPPIST-1. Discovered by a team of astronomers using data from the TRAPPIST telescope in Chile and the Spitzer Space Telescope, this find is especially exciting since all of these planets are believed to be Earth-sized and terrestrial (i.e. rocky).

NASA Team Looks to Ancient Earth First to Study Hazy Exoplanets

NASA Team Looks to Ancient Earth First to Study Hazy Exoplanets

For astronomers trying to understand which distant planets might have habitable conditions, the role of atmospheric haze has been hazy. To help sort it out, a team of researchers has been looking to Earth – specifically Earth during the Archean era, an epic 1-1/2-billion-year period early in our planet’s history.