Newly Announced Super-Earth May Be The Closest Exoplanet Discovered Yet

Gliese15Ab is a newly discovered planet roughly five times the mass of Earth. Researchers aren't sure what the planet's atmosphere is like, and it's close enough to its parent star to heat it past the boiling point of water. But the most interesting thing about Gliese 15Ab isn't how close it is to its star. It's how… » 8/29/14 9:45am 8/29/14 9:45am

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

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