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Friday, December 4, 2020
Lessons from scorching hot weirdo-planets

Lessons from scorching hot weirdo-planets

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Enlarge / 1800 degrees Fahrenheit? That is a hot Jupiter, eh? In 1995, after years of effort, astronomers made an announcement: They’d found the first planet circling a sun-like star outside our solar system. But that planet, 51 Pegasi b, was in a quite unexpected place—it appeared to be just around 4.8 million miles away…
Nobel in physics is a two-fer: Big Bang and exoplanets

Nobel in physics is a two-fer: Big Bang and exoplanets

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Today's Nobel Prize in physics was evenly split between two discoveries and, thus, unevenly split among the three honored. Typically when this happens, the two discoveries are at least somewhat related; that doesn't seem to be the case here, as the Prize Committee has recognized James Peebles for his contributions to theoretical cosmology and Michel…
Very first water identified in the environment of a habitable-zone world

Very first water identified in the environment of a habitable-zone world

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Enlarge / An artist's impression of the planet K2-18b and its clouds. On Wednesday, astronomers announced the first detection of water in the atmosphere of a planet that orbits within the habitable zone of its host star. The planet, K2-18b, is certainly not habitable by us, as it's a mini-Neptune that may not have any…
Snowball Exoplanets May Be Much Better for Life Than We Idea

Snowball Exoplanets May Be Much Better for Life Than We Idea

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When astronomers discover a new exoplanet, one of the first considerations is if the planet is in the habitable zone, or outside of it. That label largely depends on whether or not the temperature of the planet allows liquid water. But of course it’s not that simple. A new study suggests that frozen, icy worlds…
NASA Guaranteed More Smaller Sized, Earth-size Exoplanets. TESS is Providing.

NASA Guaranteed More Smaller Sized, Earth-size Exoplanets. TESS is Providing.

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When NASA launched TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) in 2018, it had a specific goal. While its predecessor, the Kepler spacecraft, found thousands of exoplanets, many of them were massive gas giants. TESS was sent into space with a promise: to find smaller planets similar in size to Earth and Neptune, orbiting stable stars without…
Right here’s a First. Astronomers See a Moon Forming Round a Child Exoplanet

Right here’s a First. Astronomers See a Moon Forming Round a...

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Astronomers have discovered, for the first time, moons forming in the disk of debris around a large exoplanet. Astronomers have suspected for a long time that this is how larger planets—like Jupiter in our own Solar System—get their moons. It’s all happening around a very young star named PDS 70, about 370 light years away…
See all 4,000 recognized exoplanets in one cool brief NASA video

See all 4,000 recognized exoplanets in one cool brief NASA video

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It seems insane now, but it wasn't long ago we had no hard evidence of planets existing outside our solar system.  The first definitive exoplanet discovery wasn't made until 1992. For many years after that, a trickle of distant worlds were added to the known exoplanet catalog.  Only in the last decade, with the help…
Space-based gravitational-wave detector might spot odd exoplanets

Space-based gravitational-wave detector might spot odd exoplanets

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Enlarge / A depiction of one of the trio of satellites that will form the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. The first detection of gravitational waves came via LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)—an instrument that has to strain to overcome the constant background noise of vibrations and jolts that occur on Earth. Its success has…
The Planet-Hunting TESS Discovers Its Tiniest Exoplanet to Date

The Planet-Hunting TESS Discovers Its Tiniest Exoplanet to Date

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Thanks in large part to the Kepler Space Telescope, the number of confirmed extrasolar planets has grown exponentially in the last decade. And with next-generation missions like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) already in orbit, more candidates and confirmed planets are being discovered all the time – many of them new and exciting ones…
2 Earth-Like Worlds Found Orbiting a Red Dwarf Just 12.5 Light-Years Away

2 Earth-Like Worlds Found Orbiting a Red Dwarf Just 12.5 Light-Years...

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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. At the…

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