Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine: Astronomers Study the Weather on Distant Exoplanets

An artist’s rendering of the possible weather and atmospheric circulation patterns on hot Jupiters. A new research by a team of astronomers that was based on data taken with NASA’s Kepler space telescope, studied the phase variations that occur as different portions of these planets are illuminated by their host stars as seen from […]

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 […]

Astronomers Discover Ancient Terrestrial Exoplanets Around Neighboring Star

Artist’s concept of the recently discovered, tightly packed, and ancient exoplanetary system named Kepler-444. Astroseismic studies of the star’s oscillations, allowed astronomers to determine that it is the oldest planetary system discovered to date, with an age of approximately 11 billion years. Image Credit: Tiago Campante/Peter Devine/University of Birmingham

 

“Nearly a hundred thousand […]

New Uranus-Like 'Ice Giant' Exoplanet Discovered

Artist’s conception of an ice giant type exoplanet. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon (STScI)

Many different kinds of exoplanets have been found by astronomers, from giant “hot Jupiters” and “super Earths” to smaller rocky worlds like Earth or Mars. Now, another type has been discovered, an “ice giant” similar to Uranus or Neptune in our […]

Astronomers Create Most Detailed Weather Map Yet of an Exoplanet

Graphic depicting how WASP-43b orbits its star, always keeping the same hemisphere facing the star, much like how the Moon always keeps the same hemisphere facing the Earth. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)

Being able to find exoplanets orbiting distant stars is a major accomplishment in itself, and fine-tuning the data […]

No Water, Please: The Case of the Surprisingly Dry 'Hot Jupiters'

This is an artistic illustration of the gas giant planet HD 209458b in the constellation Pegasus. The planet was recently studied by astronomers alongside two other similar extrasolar worlds, for their abundance in water. To the surprise of astronomers, they have found much less water vapor in the planets’ atmospheres than standard planet-formation models […]

Astronomers Discover First Ice Giant Exoplanet Candidate in Long-Period Orbit

This artist’s concept shows Kepler-421b, a Uranus-sized transiting exoplanet with the longest known year, circling its star once every 704 days. Kepler-421b orbits an orange, K-type star that is cooler and dimmer than our Sun and is located about 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Image Credit/Caption: Harvard-Smithsonian, Center for Astrophysics/D. A. […]

Strange New Worlds: Exoplanets Abound in the Cosmos (Part 2)

A comparison of the sizes of the three known planets of the star Kepler-37 with some of the worlds of the solar system. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have been dazzled by the sheer number of planets there seem to be in the galaxy. According to a recent estimate, there’s on average at least one […]

Planets, Planets Everywhere: Exoplanets Abound in the Cosmos

Illustration depicting a system of three rocky planets, each smaller than the Earth, found in orbit around the red dwarf KOI-961. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It has been only about 20 years since the first planets were found outside our solar system. Today, almost a thousand exoplanets have been confirmed, and the rate of discovery […]

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit for Fomalhaut B

This false-color composite image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals the orbital motion of the planet Fomalhaut b. Based on these observations, astronomers calculated that the planet is in a 2,000-year-long, highly elliptical orbit. The planet will appear to cross a vast belt of debris around the star roughly 20 years from now. […]