Astronomers have discovered a planetary system that formed nearly 13 billion years ago, suggesting the early universe harbored more planets than has been thought. The system consists of a star called HIP 11952 and two Jupiter-like alien planets. It is just 375 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cetus (the Whale). The planets are likely the oldest yet found, at 12.8 billion years old, they’re just 900 million years younger than the universe itself, according to the commonly accepted Big Bang theory. HIP 11952 contains very little other than hydrogen and helium.
New study suggests that there should be billions of habitable, rocky planets around the faint red stars of our galaxy. The findings are based on a survey of 102 stars in a class called red dwarfs. Red dwarfs are fainter, cooler, less massive and longer-lived than the sun, and are thought to make up about 80 percent of the stars in our galaxy. Using the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, astronomers found nine planets slightly larger than Earth over a six-year period.
According to researchers stars with disks of debris around them might be good targets to search for Earth-like alien planets. A few hundred stars have been found that show signs of a debris disk by astrophysicists of the Observatory of Bordeaux in France.The lifetime of dust is very short compared with that of stars, for instance, the dust can get scattered out into interstellar space by gravitational perturbations from giant planets.
Scientists have discovered a new type of alien planet.The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet is called GJ 1214b, which astronomers first discovered in December 2009.GJ1214b is a super-Earth orbiting a red-dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). New observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. GJ1214b represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in our solar system or any other planetary system currently known. To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more candidates awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations but according to researchers GJ 1214b, is something new altogether. This so-called super-Earth is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet.
A potentially habitable alien planet has been found around a nearby star. The planet is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which is a narrow circumstellar region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface. According to Guillem Anglada-Escudé this planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life. The researchers estimate that the planet, called GJ 667Cc, is at least 4.5 times as massive as Earth, which makes it a so-called super-Earth.
NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, the star. The planets orbit close to their host stars and range in size from 1.5 times the radius of Earth to larger than Jupiter. Fifteen are between Earth and Neptune in size. Further observations will be required to determine which are rocky like Earth and which have thick gaseous atmospheres like Neptune.
Astronomers have discovered the three smallest alien planets. The alien worlds, detected using publicly available data from NASA’s Kepler mission, are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the diameter of Earth, and the smallest one is roughly Mars-size.
Accroding to David Charbonneau, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could be used as a powerful tool that will enable astronomers to sniff the atmospheres of alien planets.
Thousands of astronomers and space scientists from all over the world will descend upon Austin, Texas next week for a Space Super Bowl Conference. The 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is one of the year’s largest astronomy conferences, and will feature new discoveries about alien planets, dark matter and more.