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  • Science Ticker

    Delayed launch of NASA’s next exoplanet hunter is now set for tonight

    Editor's note: This story has been updated April 18 with new launch plans for TESS.

    The launch of NASA’s next exoplanet hunter, TESS, has been rescheduled for 6:51 p.m. EDT April 18. You can watch launch coverage on NASA TV starting at 6:30 p.m. 

    SpaceX, whose Falcon 9 rocket is set to carry TESS into space, had scrubbed the satellite’s planned April 16 just hours before liftoff,...

    04/16/2018 - 14:53 Astronomy
  • News

    Lasers squeezed iron to mimic the conditions of exoplanet cores

    Physicists have simulated the cores of some large rocky exoplanets by pummeling iron with lasers. The resulting measurements give the first clue to how iron might behave inside planets outside the solar system that are several times the mass of Earth, researchers report April 16 in Nature Astronomy.

    “Until now, there’s been no data available on the state of these materials at the center...

    04/16/2018 - 12:49 Astrobiology, Planetary Science
  • The List

    Top exoplanet finds of 2013

    With the addition this year of 180 new worlds to the Paris Observatory’s list of confirmed exoplanets, there are now more than 1,000 known planets orbiting stars other than the sun.

    Here are some of the year’s most notable finds:

    View as a slideshow

    1. The Earthiest

    Kepler-78b is most similar to Earth in mass, diameter and composition; it could be made of rock with an iron...

    12/28/2013 - 11:38 Astronomy
  • News

    Exoplanet mass revealed in light

    A distant planet has been weighed with light that passed through its atmosphere 63 years ago. This new mass-measuring technique should allow researchers to determine which distant planets could support life.

    To identify a truly Earthlike exoplanet with the potential for life, astronomers need to confirm three essential attributes: an atmosphere that contains life-supporting molecules...

    12/19/2013 - 15:25 Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Billions and billions of Earth-sized planets call Milky Way home

    The galaxy contains billions of potentially habitable Earth-sized planets, according to even the most conservative estimate drawing on data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

    Although a mechanical failure recently put the telescope out of commission (SN: 6/15/13, p. 10), Kepler’s census of planets orbiting roughly 170,000 stars is enabling astronomers to predict how common planets...

    11/04/2013 - 18:01 Exoplanets
  • News in Brief

    An Earth-sized hell circles faraway star

    A distant Earth-sized planet’s density suggests it is made of the same stuff as Earth. The planet, named Kepler-78b, is the smallest exoplanet for which researchers know both size and mass.

    Kepler-78b, detected this year in data from NASA’s now-crippled Kepler spacecraft, is located 700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The planet’s gravitational tug causes its star to...

    10/30/2013 - 14:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Rare, free-floating exoplanet found

    A rare, rogue exoplanet without a parent star drifts through space just 80 light-years from Earth, astronomers say. The object may be the lowest-mass free-floating planet found to date in the solar neighborhood.

    The exoplanet, called PSO J318.5-22, is roughly six times the mass of Jupiter and about 12 million years old, relatively young in cosmic age. It has a surface temperature of...

    10/09/2013 - 15:04 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Fomalhaut star system is a triple

    Planets and debris aren’t the only things gravitationally bound to Fomalhaut A, a star twice the mass of the sun that sits 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. It turns out that not one but two other stars are also in its clutches. Astronomers describe the triple star system in a paper posted October 3 on arXiv.org and accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal...

    10/04/2013 - 14:00 Planetary Science
  • News in Brief

    Maps reveal clouds on distant exoplanet

    On the gaseous exoplanet Kepler-7b, the forecast calls for clear skies in the east and high clouds in the west.

    Although crude, the weather maps may be the first to identify clouds on a planet outside the solar system. In the future, a similar technique could help astronomers study clouds on Earth-like exoplanets.

    While tracking light reflecting from the planet, astronomer Brice-...

    10/01/2013 - 15:41 Planetary Science
  • News

    Gone perhaps, but Kepler won't soon be forgotten

    When scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scheduled a conference called “Exoplanets in the Post-Kepler Era,” they figured that era would still be several years away when the meeting happened. But after last week’s malfunction of a crucial piece of equipment on NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, the May 20 gathering of more than 100 astronomers in Cambridge,...

    05/23/2013 - 12:23 Planetary Science, Astronomy