ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "kepler"

Life, Unbounded

So You Want To Be An Exozookeeper?

Kepler's tally of exoplanets (Credit: NASA Ames/SETI/J Rowe)

                  This week has seen the release of the latest set of ‘confirmed’ exoplanets from NASA’s Kepler mission. In total, 715 worlds have been added to the list of what are thought to be genuine Kepler planet detections (previously standing at 246). If you’re confused because you’ve [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #3: The Ripening Of The Planets

IMG_0349

Although NASA’s planet hunting mission Kepler seems unlikely to return to a fully functioning state, after another reaction wheel failure, it has already yielded an extraordinary crop of new worlds. In fact, as well as finding many remarkable individual systems (from those orbiting binary stars to those laden down with planets), Kepler has provided a [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Too Bright for JWST: Some Exoplanets are Overwhelming

The planet Upsilon Andromedae b in close orbit to its parent star (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Understanding the structure, dynamics, and chemistry of planetary atmospheres is key to exoplanetary science. It’s sobering to realize that as of now it is still an enormous challenge to model even the atmospheres of planets in our own solar system. Despite great advances, a variety of trickery has to be employed to simulate a swirling [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

An Abundance of Exoplanets Changes our Universe

Earth-sized planets near and far (NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

Planets in habitable zones, planets orbiting twin suns, miniature solar systems, rogue planets, planets, planets, planets. If there is one single piece of information you should take away from the recent flood of incredible exoplanetary discoveries it is this: Our universe makes planets with extraordinary efficiency – if planets can form somewhere, they will. We’ve [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

You Can’t Always Tell an Exoplanet by its Size

Warning: Exoplanets may appear less massive than they really are (images used: Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason and NASA/Kepler)

Warning: Exoplanets may appear less massive than they really are (images used: Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason and NASA/Kepler) Exoplanets can be confusing things. Recently we’ve seem the announcement of a milestone for NASA’s Kepler mission with the confirmation of a planet in the habitable zone of its Sun-like star. The planet, Kepler 22-b, has a diameter [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Kepler 22-b: Another step closer to finding Earth-like worlds

Comparison of "habitable zone" of Kepler 22 system and our solar system (NASA/Kepler)

Today sees the announcement that one of the “candidate” planets listed from NASA’s Kepler mission back in February is now confirmed, and it’s a key one. At 2.4 times the diameter of the Earth the planet Kepler 22-b also orbits its parent star (which is a slightly less massive G-dwarf star than the Sun and [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

Exomoons ever closer

On a moon, far, far away...

One of the biggest thrills of exoplanetary science is seeing how it combines the new and the old, with every discovery bringing startling perspective on the nature of our own very familiar solar system. I thought I’d dig out a post from the Life, Unbounded archives that helps illustrate this. A freshly edited version of [...]

Keep reading »
Life, Unbounded

The Habitable Planets

Habitable Exoplanet

In 1964 Stephen Dole published a hundred and seventy-four page document for a US Air Force project at the RAND corporation in Santa Monica, California. With not a little hubris it was titled “Habitable Planets for Man“, an extraordinarily detailed and prescient scientific study of the nature of worlds that might support life in the [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

The Top Ten Space and Physics Stories of 2014

A spacecraft photographs itself approaching a comet in deep space

From humanity’s first, flawed foray to the surface of a comet to the celebrated discovery of (and less celebrated skepticism about) primordial gravitational waves, 2014 has brought some historic successes and failures in space science and physics. Here are my selections for the top ten stories from this year, with a look forward at what [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Twin Earth May Be Better Than Earth for Life

kepler world

Pseudo-Earths are out there. That’s the message of today’s exciting announcement that a planet about the same size as Earth lives in its star’s habitable zone—the temperate region around a star where liquid water might flow. “For me, the impact is to prove that such planets really do exist,” said David Charbonneau, an astronomer at [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

NASA’s Kepler Mission Endangered by Hardware Failure

NASA

The prolific planet-hunting spacecraft that has already discovered some of the most intriguing exoplanets known has abruptly lost the capacity to carry out its mission, NASA officials announced May 15. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which launched in 2009, relies on an array of flywheels, or reaction-wheel assemblies, to stabilize the pointing of its telescope toward a [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Beautiful Video Imagines the Thousands of Known Exoplanets Orbiting a Single Star

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Yesterday I wrote about the excitement at the American Astronomical Meeting here about new exoplanet discoveries. Scientists working on the Kepler satellite announced the discovery of an additional 461 planet candidates, bringing the total to 2,740. What are these planets like? Alex Parker, a postdoctoral researcher in planetary science at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Earth-Like Planets Fill the Galaxy

Kepler telescope

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Look up on a starry night. Almost every one of those tiny pricks of light is home to an unseen world. Our Milky Way galaxy is full of planets—100 billion or more—and many of those planets are Earth-like rocks (although our solar system still appears to be an oddball). Such are the major [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

A Plethora of Planets: Number of Known Exoplanets Soaring

Graph of known exoplanets by year

“We are really in the age of discovery of new worlds.” That was Lisa Kaltenegger of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, during a September 12 press conference in which European researchers announced the discovery of about 50 planets new to science. There are now 685 [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Citizen scientists join the exoplanet hunt

Artist

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009, is one of the finest and most prolific machines ever built for seeking out worlds orbiting distant stars. And at an estimated cost of $600 million, it had better be. Now anyone can sift through a bit of Kepler’s voluminous data, obtained as the space telescope gazes at some [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Limited Time Only!

Get 50% off Digital Gifts

Hurry sale ends 12/31 >

X

Email this Article

X