Looking for Alien Life on Bizarre "Eyeball Planets" 

It's easy for us Earthlings to imagine life evolving on planets like ours. But there are exoplanets out there that strain the imagination. Take "eyeball planets," which are half frozen, half broiling with the heat of their suns. Earthlike planet Zarmina, in the Gliese system, is one of these. We shouldn't rule these… » 2/20/15 6:35pm 2/20/15 6:35pm

NASA Made These Gorgeous Travel Posters For Actual Exoplanets

As the exoplanet discoveries from Kepler keep pouring in, we're realizing just how fantastic, bizarre, and varied the planets of our universe truly are. Someday, we might see them with our own eyes. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created a stunning set of exoplanet travel posters that will make you wish very… » 1/07/15 11:01am 1/07/15 11:01am

Kepler Just Found the Most Earth-Like Exoplanets Ever Discovered

Kepler just can't stop discovering exoplanets. Nearly two years after scientists said it was crippled, the planet-hunting telescope recently identified eight new planets. But that's not all. They're all in the Goldilocks zone of their respective stars, and two of them are more Earth-like than anything astronomers have… » 1/06/15 6:12pm 1/06/15 6:12pm

Kepler Just Discovered a New Super-Earth, Against All Odds 

In May 2013, NASA's exoplanet-seeking spacecraft, Kepler, seemed doomed. Two of four wheels that stabilized its telescope had malfunctioned—and NASA appealed to scientists from around the world for ideas to salvage its mission. Yesterday, it announced the discovery of a brand-new super-Earth 180 light years from our… » 12/19/14 11:35am 12/19/14 11:35am

This Giant Rainbow Was Made With Tech That's Used To Study Exoplanets

It's not very often that the fields of advanced photonics and installation art meet. But in Amsterdam this week, visitors to the city's Central Station are getting a look at what happens when liquid crystal optic technology is used to something completely unscientific: Make public art. » 12/16/14 9:00am 12/16/14 9:00am

You Can Discover New Planets with a DSLR 

Wouldn't it be cool to discover a planet circling a lonely star light years away from Earth? Maybe you'd even get to name it. Actually exploring deep space is hard, but as IEEE Spectrum's David Schneider points out, detecting exoplanets is pretty simple, simple enough that a basic DSLR and a telephoto lens can do it. » 12/15/14 11:42am 12/15/14 11:42am

How Would Alien Astronomers Find Earth?

This weekend, astronomers announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planet anyone has identified yet. The search of habitable planets is intensifying—and with it, questions about whether we're looking for the exoplanets the right way. For starters, figuring out how Earth would look to aliens is actually pretty… » 6/30/14 1:00pm 6/30/14 1:00pm

The Lick Observatory's Newest Telescope Is an Exoplanet Hunting Robot

Exoplanets—planets orbiting stars that aren't our Sun—seem to be popping out of the cosmic woodwork now that we know where and how to look for them. The Kepler mission alone has discovered 961 of them, and it's only looking at a tiny sliver of distant space. Just think of how many we'll find when the new James Lick… » 3/28/14 5:40pm 3/28/14 5:40pm

The Worst Blunders People Make in Inventing Fictional Alien Worlds

We love stories that take us to alien planets and let us explore whole new environments. But not every alien planet is totally realistic, especially given how much we've learned about exoplanets lately. So we asked six experts to tell us the biggest mistakes they see in fictional habitable worlds — and here's what… » 2/20/14 12:20pm 2/20/14 12:20pm

The Objects in Space That We Really, Really Can't Explain

Forget UFOs — there are a lot of objects and events in space that are identified, but still completely incomprehensible. From planets in our solar system, to inexplicable energy bursts from across the universe, here are some of the enduring mysteries of the space and time we call home. » 1/02/14 1:40pm 1/02/14 1:40pm

Astronomers Figured Out How to Weigh Entire Planets Using Starlight

Weighing a planet is a tough task. I mean, it's not like you can just put them on a bathroom scale. And, while astronomers figured out how to measure the mass of planets in our solar system a long time ago, it's practically impossible to weigh exoplanets. Well, it was until recently. » 12/19/13 5:20pm 12/19/13 5:20pm

A Mind-Boggling Display of Earth-Like Planets

Kepler keeps finding more and more potentially habitable planets in our Universe—and it turns out that looking at them can be just as perplexing as thinking about them. » 11/07/13 3:40am 11/07/13 3:40am

One in Five Sun-Like Stars Has Earth-Size Planets in Habitable Zone

The odds of finding a habitable planet elsewhere in the universe just get better and better. A new study claims that one in five Sun-like stars has an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone. That adds up to about 20 billion Earth-size planets in the Milky Way alone. » 11/04/13 5:20pm 11/04/13 5:20pm

Scientists Found the Remains of a Water-Covered Earth-Like Planet

A team of astrophysicists have made an exciting however complex discovery a mere 170 light years away. In their own words, it's "the first evidence of a water-rich rocky planetary body" outside of our own solar system to have evidence of water. It's the "rocky" bit that makes it Earth-like. » 10/10/13 4:20pm 10/10/13 4:20pm

If You Named A Planet Recently You Probably Didn't, You Know,…

The International Astronomical Union is sitting down with the Internet to have a little talk. Just because some kids on the playground say they'll let you name an exoplanet for $5 doesn't mean you should give them $5. First of all they're not the boss of you, and second of all they have nothing to do with planet-naming » 4/14/13 1:15pm 4/14/13 1:15pm

If Earth 2 Exists, TESS Will Find It

The Kepler telescope that launched in 2009 is is no slouch when it comes to hunting for exoplanets. The system is charged with investigating the more than 145,000 stars within its view in the hopes of finding habitable planets but those stars constitute just 0.28 percent of the sky. Luckily, there's a new orbital… » 4/12/13 11:30am 4/12/13 11:30am

All 786 Known Planets to Scale

This is a very simple and brilliant visualization of all planets known to humankind as of June 2012. There are 786, including the eight in our Solar System, which is shown in the gray square in the center. » 6/20/12 11:20am 6/20/12 11:20am

The Lens We'll Look Through to Find a New Earth

We have heard a lot about exoplanets in the past year. But for all the talk about these planets, which orbit a star other than our sun, we still haven't actually seen one. » 3/28/12 3:40pm 3/28/12 3:40pm

Kepler Just Nearly Doubled Science's Stock of Known Exoplanets

NASA released dramatic new findings from the planet-scouting Kepler spacecraft project Thursday. Looks like the universe is way, way more crowded than we had realized. » 1/27/12 12:00am 1/27/12 12:00am

Scientists Find a Planet Similar to Mars Outside Our Solar System

Someone call John Lithgow and pull French Stewart out of storage, a team of astronomers using the Kepler telescope have discovered the smallest exoplanets, in the tiniest solar system, so far. And their existence may show that our solar system isn't all that unique. » 1/12/12 1:00am 1/12/12 1:00am