In studying our Solar System over the course of many centuries, astronomers learned a great deal about the types of planets that exist in our universe. This knowledge has since expanded thanks to the discovery of extrasolar planets, many of which are similar to what we have observed here at home.
For generations, humans have looked out at the night sky and wondered if they were alone in the universe. With the discovery of other planets in our Solar System, the true extent of the Milky Way galaxy, and other galaxies beyond our own, this question has only deepened and become more profound.
You’re looking at the closest exoplanet ever directly imaged from Earth.
It may be a terrestrial planet, but the changing atmospheric conditions on the so-called “Diamond Planet” are absolutely nothing like what we experience here on Earth.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that our Solar System — with its inner collection of small rocky planets and an outer region buffeted by gas planets — is quite uncommon. According to a remarkable new study, the reason may have to do with Jupiter and an ancient migratory journey that kickstarted the destruction of…
Kepler scientists have discovered the oldest known system of rocky, Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way. This suggests that terrestrial planets have appeared throughout most of the Universe's 13.8 billion year history — a potential indication of just how ancient some extraterrestrial civilizations could be.
What are planetary atmospheres made of? Figuring out the answer to that question is a big step on the road to learning about habitability, assuming that life tends to flourish in atmospheres like our own.
Gliese15Ab is a newly discovered planet roughly five times the mass of Earth. Researchers aren't sure what the planet's atmosphere is like, and it's close enough to its parent star to heat it past the boiling point of water. But the most interesting thing about Gliese 15Ab isn't how close it is to its star. It's how…
This visualization, created by UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Parker, is one of the most beautiful representation of alien worlds we've ever seen.
Meet the "Mega Earth." Described today by astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, this ancient rocky world weighs 17 times as much as Earth — which is a big surprise considering that rocky, solid planets aren't supposed to get that huge.
A recently-finished study of Kepler data is providing a new glimpse into the Milky Way's exoplanetary composition. Planets about one to four times the size of Earth appear to be typical around Sun-like stars. But researchers say we don't know yet whether they have the potential to harbour life.
Scientists today announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a faraway planet that's perhaps the most Earth-like yet discovered. It's the same size as our home world, and at the right distance from its parent star to have liquid water. So, have we at last discovered Earth 2?
Here's some impressive planetary perspective: Last Wednesday, NASA's Kepler mission announced the discovery of 715 newly confirmed exoplanets, nearly doubling the total number of verified planets beyond our solar system. This animated graph, courtesy of NASA, helps put that discovery into context.
Twenty years ago, we didn't know if there were any planets orbiting stars other than our own. Today, it's estimated that each of the roughly 100-billion stars in our galaxy has, on average, 1.6 planets orbiting around it, as this video from astronomers and science-communicators Tony Darnell and Scott Lewis explains.
Our galaxy is filled with massive planets known as super-Earths. But what these planets are like has been anyone's guess. Now, for the first time, astronomers have determined that a super-Earth 42 light years away is incredibly cloudy – and that could affect our search for life on these potentially habitable worlds.
Via XKCD comes this lovely chart of Earth's newly-discovered exoplanetary neighbors. Extrapolated from the latest batch of Kepler data, the diagram depicts the number and sizes of planets thought to exist in the habitable zones of stars within 60 light years of Earth. Is it just me, or does it feel a little cramped in…
On Monday, NASA's Kepler mission added 833 worlds to its growing list of candidate planets, bringing the total tally to 3,538. Now, two recently released visualizations depict every. Single. One of them.
At just 40 light years from Earth, Gliese 1214b is one of the nearest Super-Earths we've discovered in our search for planets beyond the solar system. Now, a team of Japanese researchers say it could well be an "ocean world," abundant in good old H2O.
According to NASA, the ailing Kepler Space Telescope is officially beyond repair, and is hereby relieved of its planet-hunting duties. But the Agency isn't giving up entirely. The question now turns to how the prolific spacecraft might be put to new use, and NASA is open to suggestions.