Astronomers Detect Complex Organics Around Nearby Young Star; Produce Them in Simulated Conditions in the Lab

Artist’s impression of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star MWC 480. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, have detected the complex organic molecule methyl cyanide in the outer reaches of the star’s protoplanetary disk, where comets are believed to form. This discovery suggests that complex organic chemistry and potentially the […]

Construction Site Ahead: Hubble Observes Planet-Forming Circumstellar Dust Disks in Great Detail

A set of high-resolution images of the vast circumstellar debris disks around 11 nearby young stars, which were obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, have helped astronomers to study their complex and dynamic structure for the first time in great detail. This visible-light survey, called HST/GO 12228, was done with Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), […]

The Case of the Exocomets Around Beta Pictoris

An artist’s impression showing exocomets orbiting the star Beta Pictoris. After analyzing archival observations that had been made with the HARPS spectrograph at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, astronomers have discovered two families of exocomets around this nearby young star. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

With the recent close flyby of comet Siding Spring […]

Bathed in Crimson Light: New Exoplanet Discoveries and the Prospect of Habitability Around Red Dwarf Stars

An artist’s impression of a sunset on Gliese 667 Cc, a habitable Super Earth-sized planet around the triple star system Gliese 667, located 22 light-years away from Earth. Are views, such as this envisioned here, common on planets around red dwarfs stars in the galaxy? Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

“Call them the Firstborn. […]

Astronomers Find Earth-Sized Planet Orbiting Alpha Centauri B

Artist’s concept of the newly-discovered planet, Alpha Centauri Bb, in orbit around its parent star, with Alpha Centauri A visible at bottom left and our Sun at upper right. The discovery was made by tracking perturbations in Alpha Centauri B’s movements as small as a baby’s crawl…an astonishing accomplishment when one considers that the […]