The Quest To Find Another Saturn Just Got One Step Closer

If our solar system is any indication, planets with rings around them are quite common, but finding extrasolar ringed planets has proven difficult. Now astronomers have developed a surprisingly simple method for detecting these distant "exorings." It'll only be a matter of time before we find the next Saturn. » 3/11/15 7:30am 3/11/15 7:30am

Our Best View Of A Stellar Debris Disk Warped By A Massive Exoplanet

Astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope have released the most detailed picture ever taken of a circumstellar debris disk viewed edge-on. It's the only picture we have of a protoplanetary disk with an actual planet orbiting within it. » 2/20/15 9:20am 2/20/15 9:20am

Everything About Kepler-432b Is Extreme, Especially The Way It’s Going…

Astronomers are calling Kepler-432b a 'maverick' planet because everything about this newly found exoplanet is an extreme, and is unlike anything we've found before. » 2/17/15 8:00pm 2/17/15 8:00pm

A New Calculation Predicts Hundreds Of Billions Of Earth-Like Planets

Using a 200 year-old statistical technique, a team of Australian astronomers have concluded that virtually every star in the Milky Way hosts at least one to two terrestrial planets capable of fostering life. » 2/05/15 9:30am 2/05/15 9:30am

This “Super Saturn” Has An Enormous Ring System And Maybe Even Exomoons

Astronomers watching the repeated and drawn-out dimming of a relatively nearby Sun-like star have interpreted their observations to indicate an eclipse by a gigantic exoplanet's complex ring system, similar to Saturn's except much, much bigger. » 1/27/15 9:30am 1/27/15 9:30am

Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations

Kepler scientists have discovered the oldest known system of rocky, Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way. This suggests that terrestrial planets have appeared throughout most of the Universe's 13.8 billion year history — a potential indication of just how ancient some extraterrestrial civilizations could be. » 1/27/15 8:00am 1/27/15 8:00am

NASA's Exoplanet Travel Posters Have Us Planning Our Space Vacation

Where are you going on your next vacation? The beach? The Grand Canyon? Hiking in the mountains? NASA has a much better idea: How about an exoplanet? And, after seeing these gorgeously retro travel posters they've produced, we're ready to spacesuit up. » 1/07/15 11:42am 1/07/15 11:42am

Kepler Breaks The 1,000-Planet Barrier With More Confirmed Discoveries

Don't Sleep On The Reissue Of Kilian Eng's Stunning Art Book Object 5

Swedish illustrator Kilian Eng does the kind of mindblowing science fiction artwork that looks like concept art for the greatest movie you've ever seen. And his first book collection, the sold-out Object 5, is coming back in a bigger format, with nicer versions of his incredible illustrations. » 1/06/15 1:40pm 1/06/15 1:40pm

Over-Hyped, Misunderstood, Or Retracted Space Science From This Year

It's been a good year for science with all sorts of awe-inspiring, beautiful, or weird discoveries. But not every story survived the followup. Here's the space science stories that fell apart under scrutiny, faded on reconsideration, or didn't make sense from the start. » 12/31/14 3:55pm 12/31/14 3:55pm

A Planet In The Dreaded "Rotisserie" Alignment Could Still Support Life

One of the criteria for the habitability of exoplanets is their obliquity—the angle of the axis relative to the orbit around a star. Current thinking holds that the more extreme the tilt, the less likely the possibility of life. But MIT researchers suggest one notable exception: a world completely covered by water. » 12/18/14 10:40am 12/18/14 10:40am

Some Exoplanets May Be Too Stiff To Support Life

A solar system's habitable zone is the region of space that is warm enough to allow water to exist in a liquid state on a planet. But new geological research suggests that, even if an exoplanet has water, it is doomed to be a dying world unless its rocky mantle is soft enough to allow the flow of heat. » 12/17/14 6:40am 12/17/14 6:40am

Can We Spot Rocky, Sun-Squished Planets?

In 1954, a high school physics teacher wrote a science fiction story set on a highly oblate exoplanet, one so squished the gravity varied dramatically from equator to pole. Now researchers are contemplating how to detect such bizarre, alien worlds in our ever-expanding search for exoplanets. » 12/15/14 7:34pm 12/15/14 7:34pm

"Mirage Earth" Exoplanets Can Trick Us Into Believing They're Habitable

Desert mirages are optical illusions that make thirsty travelers think they're seeing water. And now, a new study tell us, there are entire planets that might appear to be Earth-like when, in fact, their water and atmospheres burned away while they were still forming. » 12/03/14 9:40am 12/03/14 9:40am

You may not need DNA to create life. A team of scientists working with XNA, or xeno nucleic acid, have found that the molecule can act as an enzyme that carries and expresses genetic information. It hints at how life on other planets might have evolved, Harvard researcher Jack Szostak tells New Scientist today. » 12/01/14 10:20am 12/01/14 10:20am

The First Exoplanets Were Discovered In 1917—But Nobody Realized It

When astronomers found two planets orbiting a pulsar in 1992, it was considered the first definitive detection of planets outside our solar system. But new research reveals that, nearly a century ago, a young astronomer discovered evidence of an extrasolar planetary system — he just never realized it at the time. » 10/22/14 7:40am 10/22/14 7:40am

Which Religions Would Have The Hardest Time Accepting Alien Life?

The list of known planets beyond our solar system is ever-growing. To many, this suggests the day when scientists detect signs of extraterrestrial life could soon be at hand. When that day comes, which religions will struggle to reconcile such a discovery with their beliefs – and which will adapt in stride? » 10/17/14 3:40pm 10/17/14 3:40pm

This Extreme Exoplanet Just Got Its Own Weather Map

A gas giant located about 260 light-years from here has winds that howl at the speed of sound and a day side that's hot enough to melt iron. We know this because astronomers have just made the most detailed weather map of the temperature of an exoplanet's atmosphere. Here's the forecast for WASP-43b. » 10/10/14 12:40pm 10/10/14 12:40pm

Wait, Pluto Might Be A Planet Again?

When the International Astronomical Union came up with an official definition of a planet in 2006, they booted Pluto out of the club and reclassified it as a dwarf planet. But some say the discovery of exoplanets requires that we revisit this definition and give Pluto a second chance. » 9/22/14 2:09pm 9/22/14 2:09pm

Whoa–Water Ice Clouds Suspected In Brown Dwarf Beyond The Solar System

What are planetary atmospheres made of? Figuring out the answer to that question is a big step on the road to learning about habitability, assuming that life tends to flourish in atmospheres like our own. » 9/12/14 8:40am 9/12/14 8:40am