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  • News in Brief

    The first suspected exomoon may remain hidden for another decade

    SEATTLE — A good exomoon is hard to find. Proving that the first purported moon around an exoplanet actually exists could take up to a decade, its discoverers say.

    “We’re running into some difficult problems in terms of confirming the presence of this thing,” said astronomer Alex Teachey of Columbia University at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society on January 10.

    Using...

    01/15/2019 - 07:00 Exoplanets
  • News

    Less than a year after launch, TESS is already finding bizarre worlds

    SEATTLE — The next generation exoplanet hunter is coming into its own. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has already found eight confirmed planets in its first four months of observing — and some are unlike anything astronomers have seen before.

    “The torrent of data is starting to flow already,” TESS principal investigator George Ricker of MIT said January 7 in a...

    01/08/2019 - 16:13 Exoplanets
  • News

    Hints of Oort clouds around other stars may lurk in the universe’s first light

    A thick sphere of icy debris known as the Oort cloud shrouds the solar system. Other star systems may harbor similar icy reservoirs, and those clouds may be visible in the universe’s oldest light, researchers report.

    Astronomer Eric Baxter of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues looked for evidence of such exo-Oort clouds in maps of the cosmic microwave background, the cool...

    11/09/2018 - 06:00 Planetary Science, Exoplanets, Cosmology
  • News

    The planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is dead

    NASA’s premier planet-hunting space telescope is out of gas.

    The Kepler space telescope can no longer search for planets orbiting other stars, ending the 9½-year mission, officials from the agency announced in a news conference on October 30.

    “Because of fuel exhaustion, the Kepler spacecraft has reached the end of its service life,” said Charlie Sobeck, a project system engineer...

    10/30/2018 - 17:11 Exoplanets
  • News

    Hubble may have spotted the first known exomoon

    The first suspected exomoon is coming into focus. Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope bolster the case for a Neptune-sized moon orbiting a gas exoplanet 8,000 light-years away, astronomers report October 3 in Science Advances. The moon’s existence, if confirmed, would challenge theories of how satellites are born.

    Astronomers David Kipping and Alex Teachey of Columbia University...

    10/03/2018 - 14:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • News in Brief

    The TESS space telescope has spotted its first exoplanet

    The next exoplanet hunt is officially on. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched in April (SN: 5/12/18, p. 7), has taken its first wide-sky science image and has confirmed its first exoplanet.

    The “first light” image (the moniker for a new telescope’s first useful image), taken August 7 with all four of the telescope’s cameras and released September 17, shows...

    09/18/2018 - 17:23 Exoplanets
  • News

    Astronomers saw the first mass eruption from a star that’s not the sun

    BOSTON — For the first time, a stellar eruption called a coronal mass ejection has been spotted fleeing a distant star.

    Such outbursts of plasma and charged particles are well-known on the sun, and commonly follow a burst of light called a solar flare (SN Online: 4/17/15). Astronomers had detected flares on other stars, but never a corresponding coronal mass ejection, or CME, until now....

    08/07/2018 - 09:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • News

    Next to its solar twins, the sun stands out

    BOSTON — Many sunlike stars are eerie clones, but ours is an individual. A study of solar twins reveals that the sun’s chemical makeup is surprisingly different from that of its nearby peers, while those stars are almost identical to one another. Since a star and its planets are made from the same materials, that may mean the exoplanets orbiting those stars come in just a few flavors. It also...

    08/03/2018 - 12:00 Astronomy, Exoplanets
  • News in Brief

    Astronomers snap the first baby pictures of a planet

    Behold, the sharpest view yet of a planet-in-progress.

    New infrared telescope observations reveal an exoplanet that appears to be growing inside the disk of gas and dust around a star about 370 light-years away. Astronomers have indirectly identified other exoplanet embryos by observing the paths that these young worlds cleared through the dusty disks around their parent stars (SN Online...

    07/02/2018 - 15:24 Exoplanets, Planetary Science, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Swirling gases reveal baby planets in a young star’s disk

    Baby planets growing in a disk of gas and dust around an infant star have been identified and weighed for the first time. In papers published June 13 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, two teams of astronomers describe a new technique to observe the newborn planets with unprecedented precision.

    One team, led by Richard Teague of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, found two...

    06/14/2018 - 11:00 Exoplanets, Astronomy