feb 092013
Arm of Dust in Protoplanetary Disk Indicates Unseen Planets

  An international team of astronomers led by Satoshi Mayama (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Japan) and Ruobing Dong (Princeton University, U.S.A.) has made observations with the Subaru Telescope and captured the first vivid infrared image of a curved arm of dust extending over a hole on a disk around a young star–2MASS J16042165-2130284 [continue reading]

feb 062013
 Earth-like Planets Are Right Next Door!

  Using publicly available data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away. This artist’s conception [continue reading]

jan 312013
Is Nearby Star Forming Planets Like Those in our Solar System?

  Using ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope, astronomers including Thomas Henning from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg have used a new method to determine the mass of the planetary nursery around the star TW Hydrae. At a distance of merely 176 light-years from Earth, this is the closest star that is currently forming [continue reading]

jan 312013
New Definition of Habitable Zones Around Stars

  Researchers searching the galaxy for exoplanets that could pass the litmus test of sustaining water-based life must find whether those planets fall in what’s known as a habitable zone. New work, led by a team of Penn State researchers, will help scientists in that search. A new definition of the habitable zone around stars, [continue reading]

jan 032013
How a Young Star and its Planets Grow Simultaneously

  Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have seen a key stage in the birth of giant planets for the first time. Vast streams of gas are flowing across a gap in the disk of material around a young star. These are the first direct observations of these streams, which are expected [continue reading]

nov 292012
Dust Grains in Protoplanetary Disks Form Fully-Grown Planets

  An international team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Japanese universities of Kobe, Hyogo, and Saitama used the Subaru Telescope to capture a clear image of the protoplanetary disk of the star UX Tauri A. The team’s subsequent, detailed study of the disk’s characteristics suggests that its dust [continue reading]