Deep Space

  • Life on Super-Earths
    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial life to include some very unearthly places. Their theory is that ice-covered super-Earths, which are plentiful in the Universe, could support some kinds of life.
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  • Some Planets are Better for Life
    A new idea proposes that worlds with the potential to host organisms can be split into four categories, each with their own likelihood of being inhabited. With extrasolar planet detection methods becoming ever-more advanced, these ideas could influence which worlds are studied first.
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  • Planets Form in the Eye of a Storm
    New research shows that turbulence in protoplanetary disks plays a key role in the birth of planet. The finding may alter theories on how planets form from dust and debris around distant stars.
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  • Watching for Wobbles
    New research may make it easier to detect habitable moons around distant, extrasolar planets. The new method not only identifies moons, but also allows scientists to determine their size and their distance from the host planet.
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  • CO2 Found on Exoplanet
    The Hubble Space Telescope has identified carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. The discovery is an important step toward identifying habitable planets beyond our solar system.
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  • The Sweet Taste of Alien Life
    Scientists have detected a basic sugar molecule directly linked to the origin of life in a star-forming region of the Milky Way galaxy where habitable planets might exist.
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  • NASA’s Astrobiology Origins
    Ten years ago, a new NASA program dedicated to the science of Astrobiology was born.
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  • Silica Shock Waves
    Astronomers have discovered tiny crystals in planet forming disks that indicate shock waves may play a role in planetary formation. The study sheds new light on the evolution of our own solar system.
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  • Solar System Snapshot
    Astronomers have captured the first infrared pictures of an entire solar system. So far, only three planets have been spotted - and they orbit a star that is only fifty percent larger than our sun.
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  • Seeing a Distant Planet
    Astronomers have captured the first visible-light photograph of an extrasolar planet. The planet is about the size of Jupiter, and scientists believe that the system in which it resides could harbor more worlds.
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  • Two Belts Cinch System
    Astronomers have discovered two asteroid belts and an icy outer ring around a nearby star. Scientists believe that the system might resemble our own solar system at the time of life's origin on Earth.
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  • Cutting Life Short
    Imagine a solar system where a life-bearing planet is slowly pulled in closer to its star. If life could survive the ensuing climate change, it would provide a clear example of the Gaia hypothesis in action.
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  • Get Them While They’re Hot
    Astronomers have determined that young, rocky planets stay hot longer than previously believed. The heat generated by these planets could make them easier to spot around distant stars.
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  • Patterns in the Dust
    Astronomers may have discovered a new method for detecting planets as small as Mars orbiting distant stars. The method would open a new avenue in the search for habitable planets in the universe.
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  • The Little Bang
    New research shows that a distant exploding star could have triggered the formation of our solar system. The study is helping astrobiologists understand the conditions in which habitable planets might form.
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