Astronomers Spot Pebble-Size Dust Grains in the Orion Nebula

by Shannon Hall August 28, 2014

Stars and planets form out of vast clouds of dust and gas. Small pockets in these clouds collapse under the pull of gravity. But as the pocket shrinks, it spins rapidly, with the outer region flattening into a disk. Eventually the central pocket collapses enough that its high temperature and density allows it to ignite […]

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Can Radio Waves Lead to Exomoons?

by Shannon Hall August 12, 2014

I firmly believe that our next greatest discovery will be detecting an exomoon in orbit around a distant exoplanet. Although no one has been able to confirm an exomoon — yet — the hunt is on. Now, a research team thinks following a trail of radio wave emissions may lead astronomers to this groundbreaking discovery. […]

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Help a Universe Today Writer Share Stories About Our Search For Earth-like Planets

by Shannon Hall August 11, 2014

Since 1995, astronomers have detected thousands of worlds orbiting nearby stars, sparking a race to find the one that most resembles Earth. The discovery of habitable exoplanets and even extraterrestrial life is often referred to as the Holy Grail of science. So with the gold rush of exoplanet discoveries these days, it’s pretty tempting in […]

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First Exoplanet Discovered Beyond the “Snow Line”

by Shannon Hall July 22, 2014

Data from NASA’s crippled Kepler space telescope has unleashed a windfall of hot Jupiters — sizzling gas giants that circle their host star within days — and only a handful of Earth-like planets. A quick analysis might make it seem as though hot Jupiters are far more common than their smaller and more distant counterparts. […]

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Distant Stellar Atmospheres Shed Light on How Jupiter-like Planets Form

by Shannon Hall July 18, 2014

It’s likely that Jupiter-like planets’ origins root back to either the rapid collapse of a dense cloud or small rocky cores that glom together until the body is massive enough to accrete a gaseous envelope. Although these two competing theories are both viable, astronomers have, for the first time, seen the latter “core accretion” theory […]

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