Recently in the Extrasolar Planets Category


Scientists have long held the belief that planets - including Earth - were built from rocky asteroids, but new research challenges that view.

In the search for planets similar to our own, an important point of comparison is the planet's density.

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler's first four years of data. It's also the final catalog from the spacecraft's view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

Scientists suggest in a new study the existence of a planetary object called a "synestia," a huge, spinning, donut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock, formed as planet-sized objects smash into each other.

Scientists using NASA's Kepler space telescope identified a regular pattern in the orbits of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system that confirmed suspected details about the orbit of its outermost and least understood planet, TRAPPIST-1h.

Senior Scientist Tamara M. Rogers of the Planetary Science Institute has discovered that substantial variability in the winds on the hot giant exoplanet HAT-P-7b are due to magnetism, and used those measurements to develop a new method to constrain the magnetic field of such an object.

NASA's flying observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, recently completed a detailed study of a nearby planetary system.

Many young stars, as well as more middle-aged stars like our sun, have "debris disks"--like the Oort Cloud in our own solar system--that are believed to be remnants of the system's formation.

The turbulent atmosphere of a hot, gaseous planet known as HD 80606b is shown in this simulation based on data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

On Feb. 22, astronomers announced that the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, hosts a total of seven Earth-size planets that are likely rocky, a discovery made by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope in combination with ground-based telescopes.

Evidence of planetary debris surrounding a double sun, 'Tatooine-like' system has been found for the first time by a UCL-led team of researchers.

New planetary formation models from Carnegie's Alan Boss indicate that there may be an undiscovered population of gas giant planets orbiting around Sun-like stars at distances similar to those of Jupiter and Saturn.

NASA's Kepler observatory should be able to detect planetary moons - yet to be discovered - formed by far-away planetary collisions outside our Solar System, research by Amy Barr of the Planetary Science Institute shows.

An international team of astronomers released the largest-ever compilation of exoplanet-detecting observations made using a technique called the radial velocity method.

A possible planet in a nearby stellar system may be betraying its presence in a unique way: by a shadow that is sweeping across the face of a vast pancake-shaped gas-and-dust disk surrounding a young star.

Sun-like Star Ate Some Of Its Planets

An international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Chicago, has made the rare discovery of a planetary system with a host star similar to Earth's sun.

Nearby Super Earth Discovered

A large planet has been discovered orbiting the star GJ 536.

Via a NASA-led citizen science project, eight people with no formal training in astrophysics helped discover what could be a fruitful new place to search for planets outside our solar system - a large disk of gas and dust encircling a star known as a circumstellar disk.

Modeling Weather on Hot Jupiters

The weather forecast for faraway, blistering planets called "hot Jupiters" might go something like this: Cloudy nights and sunny days, with a high of 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,300 degrees Celsius, or 1,600 Kelvin).

A number of extrasolar planets have been found in the past two decades and now researchers agree that planets can have a wide variety of characteristics.

When a star is young, it is often still surrounded by a primordial rotating disk of gas and dust, from which planets can form.

Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri.

Circumbinary planets experience a time varying irradiation pattern as they orbit their two host stars.

A four-planet system observed several years ago by the Kepler spacecraft is actually a rarity: Its planets, all miniature Neptunes nestled close to the star, are orbiting in a unique resonance that has been locked in for billions of years.

NASA's Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets - the single largest finding of planets to date.

On the Road to Finding Other Earths

Scientists are getting closer to finding worlds that resemble our own "blue marble" of a planet.

Imagine you want to measure the size of a room, but it's completely dark. If you shout, you can tell if the space you're in is relatively big or small, depending on how long it takes to hear the echo after it bounces off the wall.

In 2011, astronomers announced that our galaxy is likely teeming with free-floating planets.

Astrophysicists at the University of Birmingham have used data from the NASA Kepler space telescope to discover a class of extrasolar planets whose atmospheres have been stripped away by their host stars

Led by San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane, a team of researchers has spotted an extrasolar planet about 117 light-years from earth that boasts the most eccentric orbit yet seen.

New images of a young star made with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) reveal what scientists think may be the very earliest stages in the formation of planets.

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have measured the rotation rate of an extreme exoplanet by observing the varied brightness in its atmosphere. This is the first measurement of the rotation of a massive exoplanet using direct imaging.

First Detection of Super-Earth Atmosphere

For the first time astronomers were able to analyse the atmosphere of an exoplanet in the class known as super-Earths.

Planet Formation Around A Binary Star

Astronomers struggle to understand how planets form in binary star systems.

A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery -- why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected.

What Kinds of Stars Form Rocky Planets?

As astronomers continue to find more and more planets around stars beyond our own Sun, they are trying to discover patterns and features that indicate what types of planets are likely to form around different kinds of stars.

We report on a deep photometric survey covering an area of 1.17 deg2 in the young Upper Scorpius stellar association using VIMOS Iz and UKIDSS ZJHK data taking several years apart.

First Image of A Planet Forming

There are 450 light-years between Earth and LkCa15, a young star with a transition disk around it, a cosmic whirling dervish, a birthplace for planets.

An Extrasolar Planet With 5,400 MPH Winds

Winds of over 2 km per second have been discovered flowing around planet outside of the Earth's solar system, new research has found.

A team of astronomers is proposing that huge spiral patterns seen around some newborn stars, merely a few million years old (about one percent our sun's age), may be evidence for the presence of giant unseen planets.

The Death Star of the movie Star Wars may be fictional, but planetary destruction is real.

An accidental find of a collection of young red dwarf stars close to our solar system could give us a rare glimpse of slow-motion planet formation.

Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system, larger than Earth and a potential gold mine of science data.

Scientists analyzing four years of data from NASA's Kepler mission have released a new catalog of exoplanet candidates.

Pebbles Poised to Make Planets

A team of astronomers led from St. Andrews and Manchester universities today (6 July) announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a very young star.

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen dispersing from a warm, Neptune-sized planet orbiting a nearby star.

We examine characteristics of circumbinary orbits in the context of current planet formation scenarios.

A team of 21st-century explorers working for the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project, based at Harvard University, are searching for exomoons using data from NASA's Kepler mission and the Pleiades supercomputer at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing facility at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Astronomers from MAD at Universidad de Chile present a viable scenario for the three dimensional geometry of a planet forming system. The finding is based on the discovery of shadows cast by a warped inner disk which bears strong implications for the dynamics of planet formation.

Stunning exoplanet images and spectra from the first year of science operations with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) were featured today in a press conference at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle, Washington.

How many stars like our sun host planets like our Earth? NASA's Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study -- the 1,000th of which was recently verified.

Imagine living on an exoplanet with two suns. One you orbit, and the other is a very bright, nearby neighbor looming large in your sky.

Thanks to NASA's Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes, scientists have made the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet outside our solar system.

SPHERE -- the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument -- has been installed on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and has achieved first light.

The team received good news from NASA HQ -- the K2 mission, the two-wheel operation mode of the Kepler spacecraft observing in the ecliptic, has been approved based on a recommendation from the agency's 2014 Senior Review of its operating missions.

Odd Planet, So Far from Its Star

An international team led by Université de Montréal researchers has discovered and photographed a new planet 155 light-years from our solar system.

Under normal circumstances most people who dream of staring into space would need to purchase a telescope and a copy of 'Astronomy for Dummies' to make sense of it all.

Mysteries of one of the most fascinating nearby planetary systems now have been solved, report authors of a scientific paper to be published by the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in its early online edition on 22 April 2014.

In a dim and faraway solar system, astronomers have for the first time discovered a rocky, Earth-sized planet that might hold liquid water -- a necessary ingredient for life as we know it.

Astronomers say that magnetic storms in the gas orbiting young stars may explain a mystery that has persisted since before 2006.

After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the world's most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

More than three-quarters of the planet candidates discovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft have sizes ranging from that of Earth to that of Neptune, which is nearly four times as big as Earth.

Astronomers used the SOPHIE spectrograph at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, to confirm the presence of Kepler-88 c, an unseen planet previously predicted thanks to the gravitational perturbation it caused on its transiting brother planet, Kepler-88 b.

Nearby Failed Stars May Harbor Planet

Astronomers, including Carnegie's Yuri Beletsky, took precise measurements of the closest pair of failed stars to the Sun, which suggest that the system harbors a third, planetary-mass object.

Astronomers have discovered the most distantly orbiting planet found to date around a single, Sun-like star. It is the first exoplanet -- a planet outside of our solar system -- discovered at the University of Arizona.

Another Solar System Similar To Our Own

A team of astrophysicists at the German Aerospace Center, together with German and other European colleagues, has discovered the most extensive planetary system to date.

Scientists from University of California, Berkeley, and University of Hawaii, Manoa, have statistically determined that twenty percent of Sun-like stars in our solar system have Earth-sized planets that could host life

Planets Found Skimming Star's Surface

A new planet-hunting survey has revealed planetary candidates with orbital periods as short as four hours and so close to their host stars that they are nearly skimming the stellar surface.

Several exoplanets have recently been imaged at wide separations of >10 AU from their parent stars. These span a limited range of ages (<50 Myr) and atmospheric properties, with temperatures of 800--1800 K and very red colors (J - H > 0.5 mag), implying thick cloud covers.

"We report the latest Planet Hunter results, including PH2 b, a Jupiter-size (R_PL = 10.12 \pm 0.56 R_E) planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a solar-type star. PH2 b was elevated from candidate status when a series of false positive tests yielded a 99.9% confidence level that transit events detected around the star KIC 12735740 had a planetary origin. Planet Hunter volunteers have also discovered 42 new planet candidates in the Kepler public archive data, of which 33 have at least three transits recorded. Most of these transit candidates have orbital periods longer than 100 days and 20 are potentially located in the habitable zones of their host stars. Nine candidates were detected with only two transit events and the prospective periods are longer than 400 days. The photometric models suggest that these objects have radii that range between Neptune to Jupiter. These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances. We conducted spectroscopic observations for nine of the brighter targets to improve the stellar parameters and we obtained adaptive optics imaging for four of the stars to search for blended background or foreground stars that could confuse our photometric modeling. We present an iterative analysis method to derive the stellar and planet properties and uncertainties by combining the available spectroscopic parameters, stellar evolution models, and transiting light curve parameters, weighted by the measurement errors. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project that crowd-sources the assessment of NASA Kepler light curves. The discovery of these 43 planet candidates demonstrates the success of citizen scientists at identifying planet candidates, even in longer period orbits with only two or three transit events." More

"In December 2012, Austria will launch its first two satellites: UniBRITE and BRITE-Austria. This is the first pair of three, forming a network called BRITE-Constellation. The other pairs being contributed by Canada and Poland. The primary goal of BRITE-Constellation is the exploration of short term intensity variations of bright stars (V>6 mag) for a few years. For each satellite pair, one will employ a blue filter and the other a red filter. With the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1992, more than 800 have been detected since. The high-precision photometry from the BRITE instrument will enable a transit search for exoplanets around bright stars. To estimate the capability of BRITE to detect planets, we include in our calculations technical constraints, such as photometric noise levels for stars accessible by BRITE, the duty cycle and duration of observations. The most important parameter is the fraction of stars harboring a planet. Our simulation is based on 2695 stars distributed over the entire sky. Kepler data indicate that at minimum 34% of all stars are orbited by at least one of five different planetary sizes: Earth, Super-Earth, Uranus, Jupiter and Super-Jupiter. Depending on the duty cycle and duration of the observations, about six planets should be detectable in 180 days, of which about five of them being of Jupiter size." More

"Detections of massive extrasolar moons are shown feasible with the Kepler space telescope. Kepler's findings of about 50 exoplanets in the stellar habitable zone naturally make us wonder about the habitability of their hypothetical moons. Illumination from the planet, eclipses, tidal heating, and tidal locking distinguish remote characterization of exomoons from that of exoplanets. We show how evaluation of an exomoon's habitability is possible based on the parameters accessible by current and near-future technology." More

"The data presented in this paper are the result of the efforts of the Planet Hunters volunteers, without whom this work would not have been possible. Their contributions are individually ac- knowledged at http://www.planethunters.org/authors. We also acknowledge the following list of individuals who flagged one or more of the transit events on Talk discussed in this paper before or after discovery of the planet: Hans Martin Schwengeler, Dr. Johann Sejpka, and Arvin Joseff Tan." More

Small Telescope - Big Discovery

Extremely Little Telescope Discovers Pair of Odd Planets

"The KELT team scans those bright stars, and watches to see if the starlight dims just a little -- an indication that a planet has crossed in front of the star. The technique is called the "transit method," and takes advantage of situations such as the recent transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in our own solar system. It's a low-cost means of planet-hunting, using mostly off-the-shelf technology; whereas a traditional astronomical telescope costs millions of dollars to build, the hardware for a KELT telescope runs less than $75,000."

Cubesats and Extrasolar Planets

How a Pocket-Size Satellite Could Find Another Earth, Time

What makes ExoplanetSat even more un-NASA-like is that it began as a class project -- although admittedly, the class was at MIT. It was a design-and-build course, which the university's engineering students have to take in order to graduate. In a recent semester, the class was co-taught by Sara Seager, an astrophysicist who has done groundbreaking research studying how the atmospheres of planets orbiting distant stars might look like from earthly telescopes. Seager recruited five science undergrads to join her engineers, on the theory that out in the real world, they'd eventually have to work with engineers anyway.