Kepler Update: Earth's 'Bigger and Older Cousin' Discovered Orbiting Distant Star

Artist’s conception of Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-sized exoplanet discovered orbiting in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star. Image Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

One of the primary goals in the search for exoplanets is to, hopefully, find an Earth analog or “Earth twin,” an alien world similar to our own. That search is still […]

One Day to Pluto: Looking Back at Humanity's First-Time Successful Encounters With the Sun's Planets

Tomorrow’s historic flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto and its binary companion, Charon, will mark the completion of humanity’s first-time exploration of each of the Solar System’s nine traditional planets. Photo Credit: NASA

Tomorrow, the United States will become the first nation to have conducted a close-range reconnaissance of all nine “traditional” planets in […]

The Science of Pluto: The Gates of the Planetary Underworld (Part 1)

A computer-generated impression of the view from the surface of Pluto. The Sun looks like a very bright star on the sky (upper right), while Charon, Pluto’s biggest satellite, looms large near the horizon (at left). The scientific study of the Pluto-Charon system, has been one of expanding horizons and increased awareness of our […]

Five Weeks to Pluto: The Strange Discovery of Planet X and a World Like No Other (Part 1)

Artist’s concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during closest approach to Pluto on July 14. Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)

In the dark, outer reaches of the Sun’s realm lies a world unlike any other. Discovered in the spring of 1930, Pluto—named by an Oxford schoolgirl, who was […]

Astronomers Find First Evidence of Possible Volcanic Activity On a Super-Earth Exoplanet

Artist’s conception of super-Earth exoplanet 55 Cancri e, before and after volcanic activity on its day side. The surface may be partially molten. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

Discovering new exoplanets has become rather routine in the last few years, but determining just what conditions exist on any of them is naturally more difficult, since […]

Shedding New Light On the Solar System: Celebrating 25 Years of Hubble Science (Part 2)

A series of images of Uranus and Neptune that were taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The top row reveals the ice giant planets in natural colors, showing the planets as they would appear if we could see them through a telescope. The images at the bottom were taken with certain types of different […]

'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, […]

Kepler Confirms Over 1,000 Exoplanets, Finds More Potentially Habitable Worlds

Illustration of the eight newly verified exoplanets which are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit within their stars’ habitable zones. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Even after problems threatened to end the Kepler space telescope’s mission for good last year, the planet-hunting observatory has continued to help astronomers discover thousands of exoplanets orbiting […]

Two New Exoplanet Findings Bring Us Closer to Discovering Other Earth-Like Worlds

Artist’s conception of a super-Earth ocean world, with another gas giant planet rising over the horizon. Image Credit: David A. Aguilar/CfA

When it comes to exoplanets, the most exciting for many people are, of course, the ones which may be the most Earth-like, since these are regarded as the most likely to possibly support some form […]

Kepler Finds 'Super-Earth' Exoplanet in First Discovery of New Mission

Artist’s conception of super-Earth HIP 116454b. Image Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

The Kepler space telescope has found its first new exoplanet, a “super-Earth,” of its secondary mission phase. The discovery adds to a current tally of 996 confirmed exoplanets and 4,183 planetary candidates already found by the revolutionary planet-hunting telescope.

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