apr 192013
Three Super-Earths in 'Habitable Zone' Discovered

  NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems that include three super-Earth-sized planets in the “habitable zone,” the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water. Relative sizes of Kepler habitable zone planets discovered as of April 18, 2013. Left to [continue reading]

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]

nov 302012
Brown Dwarfs May Host Rocky Earth-Like Planets

  Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disk encircling a brown dwarf contains millimeter sized solid grains like those found in denser disks around newborn stars. The surprising finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-size planets form, and suggests that rocky planets [continue reading]

nov 252012
Magnesium Oxide: From Earth to Super-Earth

  The mantles of Earth and other rocky planets are rich in magnesium and oxygen. Due to its simplicity, the mineral magnesium oxide is a good model for studying the nature of planetary interiors. New work from a team led by Carnegie’s Stewart McWilliams studied how magnesium oxide behaves under the extreme conditions deep within [continue reading]

okt 122012
The Girl's Best Friend Found: A Big Diamond Planet

  New research led by Yale University scientists suggests that a rocky planet twice Earth’s size orbiting a nearby star is a diamond planet. Family portraits of two planetary systems: A simulation of the silhouette of planet 55 Cancri e passing in front of  its parent star, compared to the Earth and Jupiter transiting our [continue reading]

aug 032012
On Evaporating Super-Earths it's Raining Pebbles

  Simulations of the vaporization of Earth-like planets tell planet-hunting astronomers what to look for in the atmospheres of candidate super-Earths. Scientists at Washington University have simulated the atmospheres of hot Earth-like planets, such as CoRoT-7b, shown here in an artist’s conception. CoRoT-7b orbits so close to its star that its starward side is an [continue reading]