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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

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

How can we possibly guess what an exoplanet's atmosphere is like?

The transit-method of exoplanet-detection is pretty straightforward, conceptually: First you find a distant star. If the light from it dims, it could be due to a planet in its orbit that has passed between it and your telescope. But how do scientists determine how big these distant planets are, what they're made of,… » 12/04/13 1:40pm 12/04/13 1:40pm

A New Equation Reveals Our Exact Odds of Finding Alien Life

It’s been over half a century since Frank Drake developed an equation to estimate the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy. We’ve learned a lot since then, prompting an astrophysicist from MIT to come up with her own take on the equation. Here’s how the new formula works — and how it could help in the… » 6/21/13 11:00am 6/21/13 11:00am

Astronomers say there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized planets in…

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