There’s a type of exoplanet that astronomers sometimes refer to as cotton candy planets, or super-puffs. They’re mysterious, because their masses don’t match up with their extremely large radii. The two characteristics imply a planet with an extremely low density.
In our Solar System, there’s nothing like them, and finding them in distant solar systems has been puzzling. Now a pair of astronomers might have figured it out.
Continue reading “Are Low Density “Cotton Candy” Exoplanets Actually Just Regular Planets With Rings?”
There are several ways to look for alien life on distant worlds. One is to listen for radio signals these aliens might send, such as SETI and others are doing, but another is to study the atmospheres of exoplanets to find bio-signatures of life. But what might these signatures be? And what would they appear to our telescopes?
Continue reading “During A Lunar Eclipse, It’s A Chance To See Earth As An Exoplanet”
The CHEOPS spacecraft is taking the first tentative steps in its mission. Back on January 29th, the spacecraft opened the cover on its lens. Now, we have the first images from CHEOPS.
Continue reading “Here are the First Pictures from CHEOPS”
The CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) spacecraft just opened the cover on its telescope. The spacecraft was launched on December 18th 2019 and has so far performed flawlessly. In one or two weeks we could get our first images from the instrument.
Continue reading “CHEOPS Just Opened Its Eyes to Start Studying Known Exoplanets, We Should See the First Picture in a Few Weeks”
Astronomers have discovered another candidate exoplanet orbiting our neighbor, Proxima Centauri. A paper announcing these results was just published in the journal Science Advances. If confirmed, it will be the second exoplanet orbiting the star.
Continue reading “A Second Planet May Have been Found Orbiting Proxima Centauri! And it’s a Super Earth.”
We tend to think of our Earthly circumstances as normal. A watery, temperate world orbiting a stable yellow star. A place where life has persisted for nearly 4 billion years. It’s almost inevitable that when we think of other places where life could thrive, we use our own experience as a benchmark.
But should we?
Continue reading “The Perfect Stars to Search for Life On Their Planets”
Researchers working with data from NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) have a found a planet that orbits two stars. Initially, the system was identified by citizen scientists as a pair of eclipsing binary stars without a planet. But an intern taking a closer look at that data found that it was misidentified.
Continue reading “TESS Finds a Planet That Orbits Two Stars”
NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has found its first Earth-sized planet located in the habitable zone of its host star. The find was confirmed with the Spitzer Space Telescope. This planet is one of only a few Earth-sized worlds ever found in a habitable zone.
Continue reading “TESS Finds its First Earth-Sized World in the Habitable Zone of a Star”
The CHEOPS mission is underway. On December 18th, the exoplanet-studying spacecraft launched from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana aboard a Soyuz-Fregat rocket. Initial signals from CHEOPS show that the launch was a success.
Continue reading “ESA’s CHEOPS Just Launched. We’re About to Learn a LOT More About Exoplanets”
Earthlings are fortunate. Our planet has a robust magnetic shield. Without out magnetosphere, the Sun’s radiation would’ve probably ended life on Earth before it even got going. And our Sun is rather tame, in stellar terms.
What’s it like for exoplanets orbiting more active stars?
Continue reading “Without a Magnetosphere, Planets Orbiting Flare Stars Don’t Stand a Chance”