From the moment that seven Earth-sized planets were discovered in orbit around TRAPPIST-1—an ultracool dwarf star located 39 light years away—astronomers have been busy trying to learn everything they can about this intriguing star system, particularly its potential to foster life. Recently, an international team of…
Over 70 percent of our planet is covered in water, and we tend to think that’s a lot. A new study suggests that our world is special in this regard, and that most habitable planets are dominated by oceans that consume over 90 percent their surface area. That may be good for primitive marine life, but not so good for…
Using a ground-based telescope, an international team of astronomers has detected traces of an atmosphere around an exoplanet located 39 light-years away. This exoplanet is not much larger than our own, making it the most Earth-like planet known to harbor an atmosphere.
Red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the galaxy. But new research suggests that life within these systems may be limited, due to the stiflingly hot atmospheres on Earth-sized planets that orbit the red dwarfs.
In a few years, powerful new telescopes will usher in a search for habitable worlds outside our solar system. And TRAPPIST-1—a dim, tepid star just a smidge larger than Jupiter—is one of the first places we’ll look. It’s only forty light years away, and it’s home to several promising, Earth-sized exoplanets.
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…
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.
Twenty years ago, discovering another Earth sounded like a science fictional dream. But within a generation, astronomers now believe we might do just that.
For decades, astronomers have assumed that Earth-like planets cannot form around binary stars on account of wacky gravitational effects. Which, for Star Wars fans, was a total downer. But a new study suggests that not only is the formation of Tatooine-like planets very much possible, they may actually be quite common.
Using a 200 year-old statistical technique, a team of Australian astronomers have concluded that virtually every star in the Milky Way hosts at least one to two terrestrial planets capable of fostering life.
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.
The amazing Kepler Space Telescope has now catalogued over 1,000 exoplanets. Among them are eight new planets located within habitable zones, including two that astronomers say are the most Earth-like planets yet. Here's what we know about Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b.
It's going to be harder to find habitable Earth-like worlds than we thought. An analysis of three hot Jupiters yielded only 1/10 to 1/1000 the amount of water predicted by models. This means our planetary formation theories are incomplete — and that we should expect to see lower water abundances on potentially…
An international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a potentially-habitable Super-Earth around the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 832. Located 16 light-years from Earth, it's considered one of the closest and best habitable-world candidates so far.
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.
Researchers from MIT have located a lava-filled world about 700 light-years away that's 40 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun. It's considered one of the shortest orbital periods known to science.
When we look up into the starry sky at night, we only see a small portion of what's really up there. Red dwarfs comprise nearly 75% of all the stars in the Milky Way, yet they remain invisible to the naked eye. Given their predominance, astronomers and astrobiologists are keen to learn more about these small, cool…
The past 12 months has seen a dramatic influx in announcements proclaiming the discovery of Earth-like planets. It was only a few years ago that the detection of any kind exoplanet was cause for celebration, but these days news of a potentially habitable planet has become routine. But as astronomer and astrobiologist…
A new study estimates that one in four sun-like stars have Earth-sized planets — far more than previously thought. It challenges current theories on how planets form, and may mean a greater chance of finding habitable worlds.