NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope spotted light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which orbits a star 41 light-years from Earth. A year on the extrasolar planet lasts just 18 hours. The planet 55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 and is not a habitable world. Instead, it is known as a super-Earth because of its size: The world is about twice the width of Earth and is super-dense, with about eight times the mass of Earth. But until now, scientists have never managed to detect the infrared light from the super-Earth world. Spitzer first detected infrared light from an alien planet in 2005.
As said alien solar systems that are home to so-called Hot Jupiters are unlikely homes for Earth-like planets. Hot Jupiters get their name from the fact that they are approximately Jupiter’s size, but extraordinarily near their stars, at about a tenth of the distance from Mercury to our sun. These roaster planets are among the alien worlds that astronomers have discovered most often since their size and proximity to their parent stars mean they exert large gravitational tugs on their hosts that scientists can readily spot.
Astronomers are planning to use NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to observe next month’s historic transit of Venus across the sun’s face. But there’s a twist. Astronomers can’t point Hubble anywhere near the sun, because our star’s bright light could damage the telescope’s super-sensitive instruments. So Hubble will watch the June 5-6 Venus transit by using the moon as a mirror. The goal is to see if Hubble can determine the makeup of Venus’ atmosphere by studying sunlight that has poured through it.
Astronomers have caught four dying stars in the act of chowing down on rocky alien planets similar to Earth, a destructive cosmic process that may one day play out in our very own solar system. Evidence of the distant celestial meals was found around four white dwarfs, stars that are in the final stages of their lives. According to astrophysicists at the University of Warwick in the U.K. the stars are surrounded by dust and rocky debris from shattered alien planets that appear to have once shared very similar compositions to Earth.
According to scientists massive alien planet that may have been ripped into Earth-size chunks by its dying parent star is offering a unique glimpse into the evolution of other worlds and their stars. The planet’s two remaining pieces, which researchers tentatively identified as planet-size objects just slightly smaller than Earth, were possibly created when their parent body spiraled inward too close to the bloated red giant star KIC 05807616.
According to a recent study, tens of billions of planets around red dwarfs are likely capable of containing liquid water, dramatically increasing the potential to find signs of life somewhere other than Earth. Red dwarfs are stars that are fainter, cooler and less massive than the sun. These stars, which typically also live longer than Class G stars like the sun, are thought to make up about 80 percent of the stars in the Milky Way, astronomers have said.
According to study many wandering alien worlds, which were ejected from the solar systems in which they formed, likely find new homes with different suns. The finding could explain why some alien planets orbit extremely far from their stars.Study lead author Hagai Perets, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and co-author Thijs Kouwenhoven of China’s Peking University simulated the evolution of young star clusters containing about as many free-floating planets as stars.
The U.K. agency tasked with monitoring the country’s weather forecasts is expanding its research on how space weather affects Earth and the atmospheres of alien planets around other stars. The U.K. Met Office, which is funded by the government to provide national weather services, is now also planning to supply space weather forecasts for the region. Two teams of scientists presented their research at the U.K.-Germany National Astronomy Meeting held in March in Manchester, England.
As space agency announced on April 4 NASA’s prolific Kepler space observatory, which has discovered more than 2,300 potential alien planets to date, will keep hunting strange new worlds for at least four more years. The $600 milllion Kepler observatory launched in March 2009 on a mission to find Earth-size planets in the so-called habitable zones of their parent stars, a just-right range of distances that could support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it.