Orbiting Rainbows: Using 'Glitter Clouds' to Search For and Image Exoplanets

The search for exoplanets may one day get a lot more glittery. It sounds a bit like science fiction, but a new NASA proposal called Orbiting Rainbows would use glitter-like materials to help image some of those far-away worlds, which could enable high-resolution imaging at a fraction of the cost.

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'Old Earths': The Search for Ancient and Habitable (But Dying) Exoplanets

Illustration depicting the life cycle of Sun-like stars. Billions of years from now, our own Sun will expand into a red giant star, scorching any life that exists. Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Researchers at Cornell University are taking a new approach to the search for alien life: looking for habitable planets older than Earth, […]

Spitzer Space Telescope Discovers Distant Exoplanet Across the Milky Way

Utilising NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a distant exoplanet located 13,000 light-years away, through gravitational microlensing. The red cone in the map above our Solar System, depicts the extend in the galaxy of the thousands of known exoplanets that have been discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, while the red circle represents […]

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 […]

Hubble and Chandra Unveil Mysteries Concerning Dark Matter

From HubbleSite: “This collage shows images of six different galaxy clusters taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. The clusters were observed in a study of how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. Seventy-two large cluster collisions were studied in total. Using visible-light images from Hubble, […]

Two Earth-Sized Exoplanets May Exist in Closest Star System, Hubble Observations Reveal

Artist’s conception of the Alpha Centauri binary star system and the exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb. Our own Sun is also shown in the distance. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger

The closest star system to our own Sun may have two Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting it, a new study has shown based on observations by the […]

Jupiter Might Be Responsible for Our Unusual Solar System, Study Suggests

A montage of Jupiter and its volcanic moon Io, as seen by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto. The results of a new study indicate that the massive gas giant fundamentally altered the evolution of the early Solar System, by destroying any “Super-Earth”-type planets that may have formed, while opening the […]

Scientists Create Color-Based Catalog of Earthly Life Forms to Help Search for Alien Biology

A hypothetical rendering of colorful plant life on a habitable exoplanet. Although most such alien life, if it exists, found with this technique may be microscopic, it illustrates how analysis of color could help scientists learn more about the physical nature of alien biology. Image Credit: NASA/Caltech/Doug Cummings

With exoplanets now being discovered by […]

Under the Light of a Quadruple Sun: Astronomers Discover Additional Stellar Companions in Nearby Exoplanetary Systems

Artist’s conception of the quadruple star system 30 Arietis. The primary star, called 30 Arietis B, has a companion (the small “red dwarf” star shown at upper left). This pair of stars is itself locked in a long-distance orbit with another pair of stars (upper right), known as 30 Arietis A. A team of […]

New Technique to Study Clouds on Exoplanets Developed by Researchers at MIT

Artist’s conception of clouds on Kepler-7b. Image Credit: NASA (edited by Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT)

While exoplanets are now being discovered by the thousands, it is still a painstaking process to determine any specific details about them, since they are so incredibly far away. However, astronomers have been devising new techniques to do just that, including […]