Water Worlds Could Have Mind-Bogglingly Deep Oceans, New Models Suggest

Scientists have good reason to believe that so-called water worlds—exoplanets with surfaces covered entirely by a single gigantic ocean—are common in the galaxy. But a new computer simulations suggests that not only are water worlds prevalent, they’re also teeming with water—and at mind-boggling scales. Imagine oceans that are hundreds, and even thousands, of kilometres deep. Read More >>

Astronomers Get a Rare Direct Look at an Exoplanet Thanks to New Telescope Technique

Scientists have directly observed an exoplanet in a whole new way, thanks to an instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer. Read More >>

A New List of Stars Shows Us Where to Look for Earth-Like Planets

Astronomers have created a catalogue of 1,822 nearby stars around which the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission might spot planets receiving Earth-like levels of starlight. This is a crucial step in humanity’s search for an Earth-like, potentially habitable exoplanet. Read More >>

Too Much UV Light Could Turn Gas Planets Into Sad Rocky Cores

The atmosphere of a gas giant exoplanet located 163 light-years from Earth is being blasted into space by its host star, forming a ghostly tail. Excessive ultraviolet radiation is responsible for the celestial phenomenon, according to a new study, a discovery that could provide new insights into planetary formation. Read More >>

Scientists Spot Tantalising New Super-Earth Around Nearby Star

Scientists have spotted strong evidence of a super-Earth orbiting the second-closest star system to the Sun, according to new research. Read More >>

Goodbye, Kepler Space Telescope

NASA’s venerable Kepler space telescope, which discovered nearly 2,700 exoplanets in distant star systems, has officially been retired after finally running out of fuel, the space agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday. When it launched in 2009, it was equipped with “the largest digital camera outfitted for outer space observations at that time,” NASA wrote, and scientists on Earth had very limited knowledge of planets beyond the reach of the solar system. Read More >>

Astronomers Wonder: Can Moons Have Moons?

Inquisitive kids ask some questions that parents just can’t answer. Astronomer Juna Kollmeier’s son gave her a real stumper one night back in 2014: Read More >>

NASA’s TESS Space Telescope Has Spotted Its First Exoplanet

Say hello to Pi Mensae c—a small, Earth-like planet located nearly 60 light-years from our Solar System. It’s probably not able to sustain life, but it’ll go down in history as the first exoplanet detected by NASA’s new TESS satellite. Read More >>

Astronomers Directly Detect Iron and Titanium on an Exoplanet for the First Time

Scientists directly observed the signal of iron and titanium atoms in the atmosphere of an exoplanet 600 light-years from Earth, a new paper reports. Read More >>

This Exoplanet Is So Hot, It Apparently Tears Apart Water Molecules

There’s an exoplanet whose surface is so hot, it rips apart water molecules. It’s almost a star, but not quite; it’s an ultra-hot, Jupiter-like world located around 880 light-years from Earth. Read More >>

Planet or Star? Either Way, This Rogue Object Is Really Weird

Various news outlets have been discussing a strange object in space, which may or may not be a planet. New measurements show that what was thought to be a brown dwarf – essentially a “failed star” that is too small to generate nuclear fusion, but too big to be a planet – might be a planet after all. But that’s far from the strangest part of this story. Read More >>

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Not Dead Yet, May Even Have Another Exoplanet Survey Left in It

NASA’s $600 million (£461 million) Kepler space telescope, which is more or less running on thruster fuel fumes nearly a decade after its launch in 2009, woke up from a four-week hibernation phase on Thursday and is transmitting data back to Earth, reported on Friday. If all goes well, it may even be capable of continuing its mission to detect more exoplanets in distant star systems. Read More >>

This Solar System Catalogue Could Be Key to Finding an Earth-Like Exoplanet

By searching for the telltale, periodic dimming of light from distant stars, astronomers can spot orbiting exoplanets tens to hundreds of light-years away. But how do they know what these bodies look like? Perhaps they first try to imagine how the planets in our own Solar System might appear to a faraway alien world. Read More >>

New Analysis of Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Makes Us Hungry for Better Telescopes 

Eleven light-years from Earth, orbiting a dim red star, there’s an exoplanet called Ross 128b that, as we recently reported, has some the best prospects for life of any known distant world. New results may help astronomers figure out what the planet is made of—and they offer more evidence that it might be inside its parent star’s habitable zone. Read More >>

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Is Running Out of Fuel and May Not Have Much More Time

NASA’s storied Kepler Space Telescope — the craft which has discovered thousands of exoplanets since its launch in 2009 — is entering the retirement phase of its lifespan. NASA announced on Friday that Kepler staff had “received an indication that the spacecraft fuel tank is running very low” and “placed the spacecraft in a hibernation-like state in preparation to download the science data collected in its latest observation campaign.” Read More >>