Kepler's Latest Exoplanet Hoard, Graphed

Here's some impressive planetary perspective: Last Wednesday, NASA's Kepler mission announced the discovery of 715 newly confirmed exoplanets, nearly doubling the total number of verified planets beyond our solar system. This animated graph, courtesy of NASA, helps put that discovery into context. » 3/02/14 1:00pm 3/02/14 1:00pm

The Kepler telescope has changed how we see ourselves in the Universe

Twenty years ago, we didn't know if there were any planets orbiting stars other than our own. Today, it's estimated that each of the roughly 100-billion stars in our galaxy has, on average, 1.6 planets orbiting around it, as this video from astronomers and science-communicators Tony Darnell and Scott Lewis explains. » 2/21/14 8:40am 2/21/14 8:40am

We Have the First Weather Forecast for a Super-Earth

Our galaxy is filled with massive planets known as super-Earths. But what these planets are like has been anyone's guess. Now, for the first time, astronomers have determined that a super-Earth 42 light years away is incredibly cloudy – and that could affect our search for life on these potentially habitable worlds. » 1/01/14 7:30am 1/01/14 7:30am

Earth's galactic neighborhood sure is crowded

Via XKCD comes this lovely chart of Earth's newly-discovered exoplanetary neighbors. Extrapolated from the latest batch of Kepler data, the diagram depicts the number and sizes of planets thought to exist in the habitable zones of stars within 60 light years of Earth. Is it just me, or does it feel a little cramped in… » 12/03/13 7:20am 12/03/13 7:20am

NASA says Kepler isn't quite dead yet

According to NASA, the ailing Kepler Space Telescope is officially beyond repair, and is hereby relieved of its planet-hunting duties. But the Agency isn't giving up entirely. The question now turns to how the prolific spacecraft might be put to new use, and NASA is open to suggestions. » 8/16/13 1:00pm 8/16/13 1:00pm

The number of planets in our galaxy alone is downright staggering

Caltech astronomer John Johnson, co-author of a newly published study on the formation of planetary systems, calls the distribution of planets in our galaxy "mind-boggling." His team's are the latest in a string of predictions that pin the number of planets in the Milky Way at upwards of 100-billion. And these are » 1/04/13 12:59pm 1/04/13 12:59pm

Astronomers may have just discovered the first known free-floating…

You'll notice there's no parent star in this concept art of recently discovered (and unsexily named) CFBDSIRJ2149. That's not a mistake. In fact, it was a very conscious decision on the part of the artist. Because CFBDSIRJ2149 has gone rogue. It's homeless. A wandering planet, it orbits no star — which could well make… » 11/14/12 3:30pm 11/14/12 3:30pm

One of the first exoplanets ever discovered could actually be made of…

Remember 55 Cancri e? Sure you do — and if you don't, you should. After all, it may be the first diamond planet ever discovered that orbits a Sun-like star. At least we think it is; if there's one thing 55 Cancri e is good at, it's fooling astronomers into thinking it's something that it's not. » 10/11/12 11:28am 10/11/12 11:28am

Play with all 786 confirmed planets in one interactive infographic!

Remember a few weeks ago when XKCD put out that killer infographic depicting all 786 of our galaxy's confirmed exoplanets in one convenient visualization? Well, thanks to some data from Planetary Habitability Laboratory and some handy codework by Lane Harrison, that infographic just got even cooler. » 7/30/12 4:00pm 7/30/12 4:00pm

All 786 confirmed planets in one handy infographic

Leave it to XKCD to whip up an awesome exoplanet infographic [click to embiggen]. I'd petition for Randall Munroe to have it made into a purchasable poster, but at the rate NASA's Kepler Mission is discovering planets beyond our solar system, it wouldn't be long before he had to update it — with way, way more planets. » 6/20/12 1:40pm 6/20/12 1:40pm

Astronomers discover a brand-new class of exoplanet — the boiling…

NASA's Kepler mission has been spoiling us with planetary discoveries left and right as of late. Now, researchers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an entirely new class of planet — they call it a "waterworld," and it might be covered in broiling-hot ice. » 2/21/12 11:21am 2/21/12 11:21am

Meet 55 Cancri e — the "oozing" exoplanet

When you combine a compound like water with intense heat, said water evaporates. No mystery there. But when you throw extreme pressure into the mix, something funny happens. The compound can actually achieve what is called a "supercritical" fluid state, taking on properties of liquid and gas alike. » 1/17/12 7:35am 1/17/12 7:35am