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

We've Found A Hidden Ocean On Enceladus That May Harbor Life

It's turning out that the outer reaches of the solar system may be more hospitable to life than we ever imagined. Gravity measurements made by Cassini have confirmed that Enceladus, a tiny moon orbiting Saturn, hosts a subsurface ocean in its southern latitudes. Astronomers are now saying it's potentially habitable. » 4/03/14 11:00am 4/03/14 11:00am

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

New definition of the "Goldilocks Zone" puts Earth right on the edge of habitability

It seems that every week, we hear about a new exoplanet that's located smack-dab within its solar system's habitable zone — that warm and cozy Goldilocks area that's suitable for the emergence of life. In turn, some skeptics have contended that the parameters defining the habitable zone are far too liberal and too… » 1/30/13 1:41pm 1/30/13 1:41pm

Astronomers say there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way

Back in June of last year, astronomers working with the Kepler space telescope made the bold proclamation that all stars have planets. While this is all fine-and-well (if not intuitively obvious), what was not known is how many Earth-sized planets are out there. But now, a new analysis of Kepler data may be providing… » 1/08/13 9:00am 1/08/13 9:00am

Astronomer discovers three potentially habitable planets orbiting around one red dwarf

Canadian astronomer Philip Gregory has confirmed that there are three habitable zone planets orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 667C. The star, which is part of a trinary star system, is only 22 light-years away and it features a planet that's only twice the mass of Earth — making it the lowest mass planet found in a… » 12/18/12 9:00am 12/18/12 9:00am

Which Parts of the Galaxy Do Aliens Hang Out In?

Here at the Astrobiology Science Conference 2008 in Santa Clara, Charley Lineweaver, a Senior Fellow at the Planetary Science Institute is trying to figure out where in a galaxy aliens might live - the so-called "galactic habitable zone." Planetary habitable zones are well-known - for our sun Sol, we think it's… » 4/15/08 12:57pm 4/15/08 12:57pm