Rocky Planets May Form Around Most Sun-like Stars

Astronomers have found numerous Jupiter-like planets orbiting other stars. But because of the limits of our current technology, they haven’t yet found any other terrestrial Earth-like planets out in the universe. But new findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that terrestrial planets might form around many, if not most, of the nearby sun-like stars …

Building Blocks of Life Can Form on Cold, Rocky Planets — Anywhere

Our old friend and headline-maker is back in the news. Meteorite ALH84001 — the Mars rock that sent the world of astrobiology into a tizzy back in 1996 — hasn’t been just sitting around collecting dust. Researchers have been re-examining the famous meteorite in an effort to learn more about the early history of Mars. …

Debris Disk Could Be Forming Rocky Planets

Astronomers have discovered a dusty disk around a young star that could be in the process of forming new planets. The star, which is approximately the size of our own Sun, was observed using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The star, known as HD 12039, is about 30 million years old; the age at which astronomers believe the terrestrial planets in our Solar System had nearly formed. Based on Spitzer’s analysis to date, it looks like only 1-3% of young Suns have a disk like this surrounding them.

Rocky Planets Form Further Away Than Previously Thought

Astronomers have analyzed the dusty discs of newly forming planets around other stars, and have discovered that rocky planets (like our own Earth) form much further from their parent stars than previous theories suggested. Protoplanetary dust that gets to close to its parent star completely evaporates, and never gets the chance to clump together into larger objects. The team made these new, more precise measurements using powerful instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope and the giant Keck Observatory.

Ingredients are There to Make Rocky Planets

Protoplanetary discs surrounding new stars seem to have the building blocks for rocky planets right from the start, according to new research from an international team of researchers. The astronomers used the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Interferometer to examine the discs around three young stars, which were similar to what our own Sun looked like more than 4.5 billion years ago. They found that the inner part of these discs is very rich in sand, ready to be clumped by gravity into larger and larger rocks until full planets form.

Two Nearby Potentially Habitable Planets Are Rocky Worlds

When Hubble first observed the atmospheric conditions of an extrasolar planet in 2000, it opened up that entire field of study. Now, Hubble has conducted the first preliminary study of the atmospheres of Earth-sized, relatively nearby worlds and found “indications that increase the chances of habitability on two exoplanets,” say the researchers. The planets, TRAPPIST-1b …

Rocky Alien Planets: What The Heck Is On Their Surfaces?

We don’t have the budget yet to send Star Trek‘s U.S.S. Enterprise to probe the surface of strange new worlds, but luckily for humanity, astronomers are figuring out techniques to do that without even needing to leave Earth. One of Earth’s prolific planet-hunters, the Kepler Space Telescope, has found a lot of planet candidates with …

Astronomers See the Wreckage from a Collision Between Exoplanets

The history of our Solar System is punctuated with collisions. Collisions helped create the terrestrial planets and end the reign of the dinosaurs. And a massive collision between Earth and an ancient body named Theia likely created the Moon. Now astronomers have found of evidence of a collision between two exoplanets in a distant solar …