feb 212013
 
The Smallest Exoplanet Found So Far!

  NASA’s Kepler mission scientists have discovered a new planetary system that is home to the smallest planet yet found around a star similar to our Sun. The artist’s concept depicts the new planet dubbed Kepler-37b. The planet is slightly larger than our Moon, measuring about one-third the size of Earth. Kepler-37b orbits its host [continue reading]

jan 252013
 
The Origin and Maintenance of a Retrograde Exoplanet

  Astronomers have used the Subaru Telescope to show that the HAT-P-7 planetary system, which is about 1040 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, includes at least two giant planets and one companion star (Figure 1). The discovery of a previously unknown companion (HAT-P-7B) to the central star (HAT-P-7) as well as confirmation [continue reading]

jan 042013
 
Our Milky Way is Home to at Least 100 Billion Planets

  Look up at the night sky and you’ll see stars, sure. But you’re also seeing planets—billions and billions of them. At least.    That’s the conclusion of a new study by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) that provides yet more evidence that planetary systems are the cosmic norm. The team made [continue reading]

dec 192012
 
New Neighbours? Nearby Sun-Like Star May Have Habitable Planet

An international team of astronomers led by the University of Hertfordshire has discovered that Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars, may host five planets – with one in the star’s habitable zone. An artist’s impression of the Tau Ceti system. Image Credit: J. Pinfield for the RoPACS network at the University of [continue reading]

nov 272012
 
Solar Systems Without Jupiters Mean Massive Comet Belts

  Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered vast comet belts surrounding two nearby planetary systems known to host only Earth-to-Neptune-mass worlds. The comet reservoirs could have delivered life-giving oceans to the innermost planets. Artist impression of the debris disk and planets around the star known as Gliese 581, superimposed on Herschel PACS images [continue reading]

nov 032012
 
Our Solar System Not as Unique as Once Thought

  Some 4.567 billion years ago, our Solar System’s planets spawned from an expansive disk of gas and dust rotating around the Sun. While similar processes are witnessed in younger solar systems throughout the Milky Way, the formative stages of our own Solar System were believed to have taken twice as long to occur. Now, [continue reading]