Kepler is the plucky little spacecraft that taught us that planets are everywhere. It captured the imagination of farmers, citizen-scientists, and astronomers alike. This is the story of Kepler: a celebration of turning the theories of planetary science upside-down.
This planet is a hot Jupiter, meaning it's a massive gas giant that orbits in tight proximity to its star. That may not sound like home, but its star could double for our Sun... if you ignore its location.
2011 was a great year in the search for exoplanets, and it looks like 2012 is shaping up to be pretty fruitful, as well. Yesterday morning, just four days into the new year, astronomers announced the discovery of four massive new alien worlds, each one orbiting a star of its own.
The huge gas planet CoRoT-2b is losing five million tons of matter every second, thanks to massive X-ray bursts coming from its parent star. The worst part? CoRoT-2b might actually be the architect of its own destruction.
As we learn more about far distant solar systems, it becomes clear just how weird the universe really is. And, more disconcertingly, how unusual our own solar system is. And that starts with our curious lack of so-called "hot Neptunes."
The newest exoplanet a world of ridiculous extremes: it orbits its star at a mere fraction of the distance between the Sun and Mercury, it's four times the size of Jupiter, and the planet's temperature is hotter than some stars.
A gigantic exoplanet 63 light-years from Earth is doomed, slowly spiraling into its host star. But it's going out with a bang, funneling orbital enemy into its star and making it spin faster and faster, creative massive magnetic disturbances.