Exoplanets

Page 3.14

Category archives for Exoplanets

Tightening Life’s Belt?

New research rethinks the possible prevalence of life in the Universe, suggesting that our asteroid belt—as disrupted by the gravitational influence of Jupiter—played a key role in seeding the Earth with water and organic compounds. Unable to coalesce, and situated around the solar system’s “snow line,” the belt provides millions of little ice trays which…

Out of Reach Real Estate

Steinn Sigurðsson recently spent a weekend considering exoplanets and extraterrestrials at the Second SETI Conference in California.  He writes, “It is important to remember that while science and discovery is important, it is not the ontological basis for space exploration. Space is, ultimately, about existential motivations.”  In other words, we wouldn’t mind finding a friend, or a new Earth to…

Four First Glimpses

When the stars align, the results can be nothing short of spectacular. On Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel shows us an “Einstein ring” photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. This celestial halo surrounds a massive red galaxy, and is in fact light from a much more distant galaxy focused by gravity. Ethan explains, “gravity…

Kepler Doubles its Prospects

The planet-hunting spacecraft known as Kepler has detected the first definitive exoplanet in a binary star system, and lead author Dr. Laurance Doyle has all the details on Life at the SETI Institute. He writes, “Perhaps half the stars in the galaxy are in double star systems. Understanding that planets can form in close binary…

What Makes a Planet?

Greg Laden draws our attention to an object named Vesta, which by itself makes up 9% of the asteroid belt. Greg says “if you take the largest handful of objects in the asteroid belt, Ceres, Vesta, Pallas and 10 Hygiea, you’ve got half of the mass of the entire thing, according to the most current…

Astro News Near and Far

On Life at the SETI Institute, Dr. Franck Marchis shares the latest results from Kepler, a telescope in an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit which keeps a distant eye on 156,453 stars. Kepler watches for tell-tale reductions in brightness, which “could be due to the transit of an exoplanet passing between its star and us.” As of…