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Artist's impression of Beta Pictoris

Exoplanets

Alignment of a Star and a Planet

Unlike in our solar system, not all planets orbit in the same direction as their stars rotate. A nearby planetary system may reveal how these orbits form.

Planet-forming disk

Milky Way

Close Encounters in the Milky Way — and What They Mean for Planets

New research shows stellar flybys are common in our galaxy’s crowded center. That could have both good and bad (but mostly bad) effects on growing planets.

Super-Earth Family Portrait

Exoplanets

Three Nearby Exoplanets to Explore

A trio of nearby exoplanets make tempting new targets for next-gen telescopes.

Hot Jupiter KPS-1b

Pro-Am Collaboration

First Discoveries of a Pro-Am Exoplanet Survey

A pair of professional and amateur astronomers have teamed up to fill an important niche in exoplanet research.

Artist's illustration of a possibly disintegrating planet

Exoplanets

Are We Watching a Planet Disintegrate?

Among the wealth of exoplanets we’ve discovered beyond our solar system, some are temperate, some less so. New observations have now revealed what may be a particularly inhospitable environment: a planet literally disintegrating as it orbits its host.

Star with two suns

Exoplanets

How Amateurs Could Help Future Exoplanet Observations

Large observatories will require precise timing info to measure as many exoplanet atmospheres as possible. Backyard astronomers have the power to keep that intel fresh.

Illustration of helium escaping exoplanet HAT-P-11b

7 2018

60-Second Astro News: Helium Exoplanets and a Supernova Surprise

This week in astronomy news: Inflated helium atmospheres surround two exoplanets, and the Kepler Space Telescope captures the moments around a supernova that hint at a companion star triggering the explosion.

Illustration of planet transit

Exoplanets

Amateur Planet Hunters Have a New Online Resource

A database run by the American Association of Variable Star Observers will organize and archive data on transiting exoplanets collected by amateur astronomers.

Illustration of surface of planet orbiting Barnard's star

Exoplanets

A Chilly Super-Earth May Orbit Barnard's Star

One of the closest stars to the Sun hosts a planet at least three times as massive as our own where temperatures might be just low enough to freeze liquid water.

Exoplanets

Planets Appear More Massive Than Disks Where They Form

Infant worlds might gobble up dust quickly, the interstellar environment might feed protoplanetary disks, or planet-building dust could be hiding in plain sight. Although disks of gas and dust around young stars are a necessary precursor to planet formation, an expanded survey of stars in our Galaxy confirms earlier doubts…

Illustration of Kepler-1625b and exomoon in transit

Exoplanets

Hubble Boosts Case for Exomoon

Exoplanet Kepler-1625b might harbor a moon the size of Neptune—potentially the first confirmed exomoon—but researchers urge caution.

Celestial News & Events

Invite Ross 128 Over This Thanksgiving

With exoplanet Ross 128b in the news, we pay a visit to the star that sustains this potentially habitable exoplanet.

WASP-12b

Exoplanets

Puffed-Up Hot Jupiter Is Surprisingly Dark

Researchers have found that a football-shaped, ultra-hot gas giant that’s being devoured by its host star is also one of the least reflective exoplanets ever found.

Exoplanets

An Atmosphere of Heavy Metals

Researchers have found strong evidence of titanium oxide in the atmosphere of a hot giant planet, adding new insights to the complex motions of these planets’ extreme atmospheres.

Exoplanet-hunting TESS spacecraft

Astronomy in Space with David Dickinson

Looking Ahead: Space Exploration in 2017

An exciting year lies ahead for spaceflight involving astronomy and planetary science — by NASA and by other spacefaring nations.

Artist rendering of 42 Draconis

Stellar Science

New Star and Exoplanet Names OK'd by IAU

Following a wildly popular contest, the International Astronomical Union has named 14 stars and 31 planets that orbit them.

habitable zone of GJ 581

Exoplanets

The Planet That is No More

A new analysis confirms that an exoplanet thought to orbit in the habitable zone of the star Gliese 581 actually doesn’t exist.

Exoplanets

Exoplanet Portraits: A Tale of New Instruments

Exoplanet missions are shifting their goals from counting to characterizing, with multiple instruments coming online to directly image these alien worlds.

Exoplanets

Three Exoplanet Molds: Metals Matter

Data from NASA's Kepler space telescope point to three distinct molds of exoplanets — rocky worlds, gas dwarfs, and ice/gas giants — distinguishable based on the abundances of heavy elements in their host star’s atmosphere.

Exoplanets

Exoplanet Out for a Quick Spin

Astronomers have used a new technique to measure — for the first time — the spin of an extrasolar planet.

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