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Your search has returned 109 articles:
  • News in Brief

    We probably won’t hear from aliens. But by the time we do, they’ll be dead.

    If signals from an alien civilization ever reach Earth, odds are the aliens will already be dead.

    In an effort to update the 1961 Drake Equation, which estimates the number of detectable, intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way, physicist Claudio Grimaldi and colleagues calculated the area of the galaxy that should be filled with alien signals at a given time (SN Online: 11/1/09)....

    03/12/2018 - 12:00 Astronomy, Astrobiology, Exoplanets
  • News

    Massive stellar flare may have fried Earth’s nearest exoplanet

    Proxima Centauri has a temper. Earth’s nearest planet-hosting neighbor released a gigantic flare in March 2017, a new analysis of observations of the star shows. And that’s bad news for the potential for life on the star’s planet, Proxima b.

    The star got 1,000 times brighter over 10 seconds before dimming again. That can best be explained by an enormous stellar flare, astronomer Meredith...

    03/05/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers weigh in on human gene editing and more

    Mission: Mars

    The possibility that human visitors could carry Earth-based microbes to the Red Planet has roiled the Mars research community, Lisa Grossman reported in “How to keep humans from ruining the search for life on Mars” (SN: 1/20/18, p. 22).

    Reader Bruce Merchant speculated that Mars would need a protective global magnetic field to sustain a life-friendly environment. But...

    02/22/2018 - 10:39 Planetary Science, Exoplanets, Science & Society
  • News

    What will it take to go to Venus?

    There’s a planet just next door that could explain the origins of life in the universe. It was probably once covered in oceans (SN Online: 8/1/17). It may have been habitable for billions of years (SN Online: 8/26/16). Astronomers are desperate to land spacecraft there.

    No, not Mars. That tantalizing planet is Venus. But despite all its appeal, Venus is one of the hardest places in the...

    02/13/2018 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Exoplanets
  • News

    Some of TRAPPIST-1’s planets could have life-friendly atmospheres

    It’s still too early to pack your bags for TRAPPIST-1. But two new studies probe the likely compositions of the seven Earth-sized worlds orbiting the cool, dim star, and some are looking better and better as places to live (SN: 3/18/17, p. 6).

    New mass measurements suggest that the septet probably have rocky surfaces and possibly thin atmospheres, researchers report February 5 in...

    02/05/2018 - 11:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • News

    AI has found an 8-planet system like ours in Kepler data

    Our solar system is no longer the sole record-holder for most known planets circling a star.

    An artificial intelligence algorithm sifted through data from the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope and discovered a previously overlooked planet orbiting Kepler 90 — making it the first star besides the sun known to host eight planets. This finding, announced in a NASA teleconference...

    12/14/2017 - 20:10 Exoplanets, Artificial Intelligence, Astronomy, Technology
  • Year in Review

    Seven Earth-sized planets entered the spotlight this year

    Discoveries of planets around distant stars have become almost routine. But finding seven exoplanets in one go is something special. In February, a team of planet seekers announced that a small, cool star some 39 light-years away, TRAPPIST-1, hosts the most Earth-sized exoplanets yet found in one place: seven roughly Earth-sized worlds, at least three of which might host liquid water (SN...

    12/13/2017 - 08:29 Astronomy, Exoplanets, Astrobiology
  • News

    Hot, rocky exoplanets are the scorched cores of former gas giants

    Earth may not provide the best blueprint for how rocky planets are born.

    An analysis of planets outside the solar system suggests that most hot, rocky exoplanets started out more like gassy Neptunes. Such planets are rocky now because their stars blew their thick atmospheres away, leaving nothing but an inhospitable core, researchers report in a paper posted online October 15 at arXiv....

    10/31/2017 - 13:58 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • Feature

    David Kipping seeks new and unexpected worlds

    David Kipping, 33AstronomerColumbia University

    By early next spring, astronomer David Kipping hopes to know if the object he’s spent his early career searching for is really there.

    An astronomer at Columbia University, Kipping is perhaps most known for a project sifting through data from the Kepler space telescope on more than a thousand planets orbiting distant stars. But he’s more...

    10/04/2017 - 13:49 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers were curious about rogue planets, exomoons and more

    Going rogue

    Astronomers estimate that wandering Jupiter-mass planets without a parent star are about a tenth as common as once believed, Ashley Yeager reported in “Giant solo planets are in limited supply” (SN: 8/19/17, p. 10).

    Online reader Brian Bixby wondered how often such a rogue planet would come close to our solar system and proposed that one near the Kuiper Belt or Oort cloud...

    09/06/2017 - 13:30 Planetary Science, Exoplanets, Anthropology