New Planets

  • A Dozen New Planets Found
    The past four weeks have been heady ones in the planet-finding world: Three teams of astronomers announced the discovery of 12 previously unknown worlds, bringing the total count of planets outside our solar system to 145.
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  • Carbon World
    Most of the rocky planets familiar to us are predominantly silicate worlds, but a proposal for carbon or even diamond-like planets may add to the diversity of known solar systems.
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  • Moon, Planet or Star?
    A strange miniature solar system may be composed of a star only slightly larger than a planet. At this scale, are the celestial objects that orbit it, planets or moons?
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  • Race for Pale Blue Dot Image Quickens
    Astronomers announced the first results of a search for extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs in an unlikely place--the stellar graveyard. A research team found two candidate planets in its survey of 20 dead stars--white dwarfs at distances between 24 and 220 light-years.
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  • Hubble Spies New World
    In the southern constellation Hydra, about 225 light-years away orbits what may be a planet and its parent brown dwarf star. Because an extrasolar planet has never been directly imaged before, this remarkable observation required Hubble's unique abilities to do follow-up to test and validate
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  • New Worlds, Living Large
    Counting down the top ten astrobiology stories for 2004 highlights the accomplishments of those exploring Mars, Saturn, comets, and planets beyond Pluto. Number three in this countdown was the remarkable progress in discovering new planets in other solar systems.
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  • Planet Swapping
    Could a passing star exchange planets with our own Sun? Computer simulations suggest that a glancing blow might contribute far outer planets following star disk collisions.
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  • The Planet that Shouldn’t Be
    Theories of planet formation have certain prerequisites: the solar system that hosts the planet should be of a certain age, temperature and size. For planet hunters, the outliers may present some of the most interesting candidates. One such Neptune-class planet seems to defy the rules.
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  • Extrasolar Planets: A Matter of Metallicity
    The 130 extrasolar planets discovered so far are in solar systems very different from our own, in which life-bearing planets like Earth are unlikely to exist. But an obscure characteristic of these planets and their stars has led astronomers to predict that our galaxy is
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  • Pinhole Camera to Image New Worlds
    A University of Colorado study has embarked on demonstrating that new planets can be found with the help of an orbiting starshade. The method has been compared to building a giant pinhole camera in space.
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  • Coming Soon: “Good Jupiters”
    Most of the extrasolar planets discovered to date are gas giants like Jupiter, but their orbits are either much closer to their parent stars or are highly eccentric. Planet hunters are on the verge of confirming the discovery of Jupiter-size planets with Jupiter-like orbits.
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  • First Visible Exoplanet?
    Faint, failed stars like brown dwarfs are borderline planets themselves, but the European Southern Observatory atop the Chilean mountains may have imaged what could be the first infrared view of an extrasolar planet.
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  • Neptune-Class Worlds Found
    While striving to find ever smaller, more rocky worlds, planet hunters have moved from discovering not just Jupiter-class planets outside our solar system. Now astronomers have found two new Neptune-class planets on their road to pinpointing a new Earth-like system.
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  • Finding Super-Earths
    Of the more than 120 extrasolar planets found so far, most are as large or larger than our own Jupiter. Finding rocky worlds like Earth is nearly at the limit of current technology, but the European Southern Observatory in Chile reports finding the smallest super-Earth
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  • Backyard Telescopes for New Planets
    Could a new world be discovered with a department store telescope having only a small 4-inch diameter lens? It was a little more than a decade ago that the world's most powerful telescopes could just begin to discover extrasolar planets, but with over 120 new
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