New Planets

  • A Good Planet Is Hard To Find?
    Harvard-Smithsonian astronomers have simulated the early planet formation around stars like our own. It turns out that an alien astronomer could have seen the embryonic Earth in its earliest dusty stages.
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  • Dying Planet Leaks Carbon-Oxygen
    Using the Hubble Space Telescope to view a star dim, international researchers have identified the first extrasolar planet with a carbon and oxygen signature. While unlikely to be habitable, this gas giant adds to the menagerie of other worlds and their unusual properties.
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  • Gem Sorting for the Next Earth
    Which star is most like our own Sun? This intriguing question offers a chance to test hypotheses about what places might make for a good Earth-like, habitable planet. The best found so far may well be the 37th most westerly star in the constellation, Gemini,
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  • Twin Planets Survive Solar Blow-Out
    Two planets in the constellation Aquarius have been discovered and appear to have survived a catastrophic event in the life of a sun--the inevitable expansion to a red giant. The discovery brings the tally of extrasolar planets found to 118.
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  • Planet First Magnetic Roaster
    Among the nearly 120 planets discovered so far, the first one with a magnetic field has some surprising behavior. It's enormous size and close orbit may intertwine its magnetic field with a parent star, such that the planet is heating the sun.
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  • Vega’s Likeness for New Planets
    Astronomers at the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Councils UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC) at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh have produced compelling new evidence that Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky, has a planetary system around it which is more like our
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  • Lunacy: Finding New Moons?
    The technology required to find a planet outside our solar system boggles the imagination: the star itself is typically a billion times brighter than the planet, which gets lost in its host's glare. But with more than one hundred such planets now logged, can a
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  • Habitability: Betting on 37 Gem
    What star meets the current best guesses for habitability? This fascinating question is part of an ongoing research survey, in preparation for NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder mission. The answer, according to the largest such classification so far attempted, is the 37th brightest star in
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  • Discovering New Worlds
    Few modern scientific adventures can rival what is currently the task of those discovering new planets. While most of the hundred or so new worlds found so far have been found using the planet's inferred influence on its parent star's gravitational wobble, a few have
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  • Star Bright: Part II
    In Part I of this article, the differences between typical stars, brown dwarfs and sub-brown dwarfs were discussed. Stars have a mass of 75 Jupiters or greater, brown dwarfs have a mass between 13 and 75 Jupiters, and sub-brown dwarfs are less than 13 Jupiter
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  • Star Bright: Part I
    Starlight aside, one way to distinguish between stars and planets is to have them weigh in. Stars need a hefty amount of mass to fuse hydrogen, while planets are mere dust motes in comparison. But over past few years, astronomers found planetary-mass objects
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  • Hotter Stars, Habitable Planets?
    Our solar system offers the best chances for life to evolve on its inner planets, but astronomers also wonder if a hotter star than ours might still sustain liquid water--and potential biology--for a more distant orbiting planet. If such a solar system can be triangulated
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  • Tiny Planet SIM
    The challenges of observing a tiny planet against the vast star background and the brightness of a parent sun has not discouraged planet finders. In the coming years, six new space-borne missions are slated for a closer look at the problem.
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  • Planets Need Heavy-Metal
    Astronomers have previously estimated that around five percent of stars may have planets, but a survey by Berkeley planet finders has refined this classification. If a star is rich in metals, particularly iron and other heavy metals, then it stands a remarkable one-in-five chance of
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  • Interview with Neville Woolf: Part II
    This is the second of a two-part interview with Neville Woolf, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Woolf is the principal investigator of one of the lead teams recently awarded a five-year grant by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) to conduct astrobiology-related
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