We have yet to discover a single trace of alien life, despite the extremely high probability that it exists somewhere. This contradiction is popularly known as the Fermi Paradox. A new theory attempts to solve this conundrum by suggesting that habitable planets are quite common in our galaxy, but nascent life gets…
With Pluto millions of miles behind us and construction of the James Webb Space Telescope moving swiftly along, astronomers are already thinking about the Next Big Mission. At the top of their wish list? A forty foot-wide orbital telescope that’ll search for proof of life beyond Earth.
If you thought the Kepler spacecraft’s glory days were over, think again. Today at the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, astronomers announced a whopping 234 new exoplanet candidates discovered by Kepler in 2014. The best part? All of them are just tens of light years away.
Astronomers from Wesleyan University have detected the shock waves produced by a high-speed “hot Jupiter” exoplanet caught in a tight orbit around its host star. It’s a potential indication of an incredibly powerful magnetic field around the planet.
Earlier this year, the International Astronomical Union asked us to vote on the names for 32 exoplanets orbiting 15 stars. This could have been a trainwreck, but the planet christening actually went pretty smoothly. Now, with half a million votes tallied from 182 countries, a handful of celestial bodies have shiny new…
NASA’s Kepler space telescope spotted thousands of worlds during its four-year mission, proving that our galaxy is filled with planets. But even more surprising is what the Kepler database highlights about our own solar system: namely, that we’re a bunch of celestial oddballs.
Living on Earth, without a single other habitable world in eyeshot, can sometimes feel pretty lonely. But our isolation may be the cosmic exception. In fact, it’s possible that throughout the galaxy, life-bearing worlds usually come in pairs.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read that the “first Earth-like exoplanet” has been discovered. With nearly 2000 exoplanets found to date, it is no wonder so many of them will resemble our planet in some way. But which exoplanets are similar enough to the Earth that they could actually be habitable?
Four and a half billion years ago, a whirling cloud of cosmic dust condensed into the lump of rock we call home. For the first time, astronomers are now watching that same planet-forming process playing out around a distant star.
Astronomers have measured and mapped a weather system on a planet outside our solar system for the first time, and I’m sad to report that interstellar camping trips maaaay not be so much fun after all. On planet HD 189733b, at least, the winds are blowing at a breathtaking 5,400 miles per hour.
Astronomers have discovered a rocky, Earth-sized planet 39 light years from home—right in our cosmic backyard. With a surface temperature of 440 degrees Fahrenheit, GJ 1132b is more of an intergalactic furnace than a vacation prospect. Yet some are hailing it “the most important planet ever found outside our solar…
Slovak graphic designer Martin Vargic has pieced together a rather meticulous visualization showing over 500 exoplanets discovered by astronomers as of October 2015. Like snowflakes, it shows that no two planets are the same.
When the exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb was announced in Nature in 2012, it was hailed a watershed moment in the search for Earth-like worlds beyond our solar system. But as eerie as it sounds, it now appears that Alpha Centauri Bb never existed.
With NASA’s Kepler mission still turning up cosmic wonders, and a slew of exoplanet-hunting scopes on deck, the chance of finding a second Earth has never seemed higher. And yet, time may be against us when it comes to meeting our squishy galactic brethren: according to a new theoretical study, 92% of Earth-like…
This week, the internet worked itself into a frenzy over the possibility that we’ve found an alien megastructure. But whether or not there’s a Dyson sphere buried in the Kepler data, the discovery of a strange, flickering star is very interesting.
And...it’s literally six seconds of pixelated blob. But before you laugh, know this: Capturing that planetary transit you just witnessed was no easy task.
If a massive comet struck the Earth, the oceans would boil and the air would catch fire (don’t worry, this isn’t about to happen). But to alien astronomers studying our planet from afar, humanity’s brutal demise would look like nothing more than a faint flicker of light. If we could detect such impacts on distant…
Naming a planet used to be an honor reserved for the astronomer who discovered it, but these days, we’re finding too many to keep up. Now, the International Astronomical Union has opened the sacred process up to the internet, bless their brave souls.
Last week, the human race met its very first Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star in the habitable zone. Kepler-452b’s discovery was met with resounding excitement, but the news was bittersweet. Because life on this distant world — if it exists at all — could be facing imminent extinction.
Earlier today, during the announcement of the most Earth-like planet ever discovered, researchers working on the Kepler mission released an updated catalog—which now includes 521 new candidate planets. Add that to the 4,175 already discovered by the space-based telescope.