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 5:40pm 2/20/14 5:40pm

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 5:33pm 1/02/14 5:33pm

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