New Planets

'Iceball' planet discovered through microlensing   Science Daily - April 26, 2017
Scientists have discovered a new planet with the mass of Earth, orbiting its star at the same distance that we orbit our sun. The planet is likely far too cold to be habitable for life as we know it, however, because its star is so faint. But the discovery adds to scientists' understanding of the types of planetary systems that exist beyond our own.

  Star's seven Earth-sized worlds set record   BBC - February 22, 2017

Astronomers have detected a record seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star. The researchers say that all seven could potentially support liquid water on the surface, depending on the other properties of those planets. But only three are within the conventional "habitable" zone where life is considered a possibility. The compact system of exoplanets orbits Trappist-1, a low-mass, cool star located 40 light-years away from Earth.

  Closest potentially habitable planet to our solar system found   CNN - August 24, 2016
In a discovery that has been years in the making, researchers have confirmed the existence of a rocky planet named Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun, according to a new study. It is the closest exoplanet to us in the universe. Given the fact that Proxima b is within the habitable zone of its star, meaning liquid water could exist on the surface, it may also be the closest possible home for life outside of our solar system, the researchers said. Because of its location, the researchers hope that it provides an opportunity to "attempt further characterization via ongoing searches by direct imaging and high-resolution spectroscopy in the next decades, and possibly robotic exploration in the coming centuries."

Found! Potentially Earth-Like Planet at Proxima Centauri Is Closest Ever   Live Science - August 24, 2016

Astronomers have discovered a roughly Earth-size alien world around Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.2 light-years from our own solar system. What's even more exciting, study team members said, is that the planet, known as Proxima b, circles in the star's "habitable zone" - the range of distances at which liquid water could be stable on a world's surface.

Newborn giant planet grazes its star   Science Daily - June 21, 2016
For the past 20 years, exoplanets known as 'hot Jupiters' have puzzled astronomers. These giant planets orbit 100 times closer to their host stars than Jupiter does to the Sun, which increases their surface temperatures. But how and when in their history did they migrate so close to their star? Now, an international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a very young hot Jupiter orbiting in the immediate vicinity of a star that is barely two million years old -- the stellar equivalent of a week-old infant. This first-ever evidence that hot Jupiters can appear at such an early stage represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve.

Evidence of a real ninth planet discovered   Science Daily - January 20, 2016

Researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

Astronomers see pebbles poised to make planets - July 7, 2015

A team of astronomers led from St. Andrews and Manchester universities has announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a young star. This is the first time these 'pebbles', thought to be a crucial link in building planets, have been detected. Planets are thought to form from the dust and gas that encircles young stars in a disk. Over time, dust particles stick together until they build up bigger clumps. Eventually, these have enough mass that gravity becomes significant, and over millions of years the clumps crash together to make planets and moons. In our own solar system, this process took place about 4.5 billion years ago, with the giant planet Jupiter the first to form.

Bizarre Comet-like Alien Planet Is First of Its Kind   Live Science - June 25, 2015

A Neptune-size planet appears to be masquerading as a comet, with a gargantuan stream of gas flowing behind it like a comet's tail. The bizarre find is the first of its kind ever discovered by astronomers. The strange, comet-like planet, known as GJ 436b, is orbiting a red dwarf star and is about 22 times as massive as Earth. Astronomers detected the giant gas cloud around the planet using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Icy body found orbiting far from Sun   BBC - March 26, 2014

Scientists have identified a new dwarf planet in the distant reaches of our Solar System. It is being called 2012 VP113 for the time being, is about 450km across and is very likely icy in composition. To date, only one other such object has been seen orbiting beyond the major planets in its region of space referred to as the inner Oort Cloud. That previous object, called Sedna, is about 1,000km across, and was found 10 years ago. But researchers believe there are hundreds more such objects awaiting detection.

Dwarf Planet Discovery Hints at Hidden World Orbiting Solar System   National Geographic - March 26, 2014
Discovery of an icy "dwarf" world beyond Pluto hints that a much bigger planet may hide even farther out in the dim reaches of the solar system, astronomers suggested on Wednesday.

Kepler telescope bags huge haul of planets   BBC - February 27, 2014

The science team sifting data from the US space agency's (Nasa) Kepler telescope says it has identified 715 new planets beyond our Solar System. This is a huge new haul. In the nearly two decades since the first so-called exoplanet was discovered, researchers had claimed the detection of just over 1,000 new worlds. Kepler's latest bounty are all in multi-planet systems; they orbit only 305 stars. The vast majority, 95%, are smaller than our Neptune, which is four times the radius of the Earth. Four of the new planets are less than 2.5 times the radius of Earth, and they orbit their host suns in the "habitable zone" - the region around a star where water can keep a liquid state.

Newfound planet is Earth-mass but gassy   PhysOrg - January 6, 2014

An international team of astronomers has discovered the first Earth-mass planet that transits, or crosses in front of, its host star. KOI-314c is the lightest planet to have both its mass and physical size measured. Surprisingly, although the planet weighs the same as Earth, it is 60 percent larger in diameter, meaning that it must have a very thick, gaseous atmosphere.

Pink Alien Planet Is Smallest Photographed Around Sun-Like Star   Live Science - August 6, 2013

Glowing a dark magenta, the newly discovered exoplanet GJ 504b weighs in with about four times Jupiter's mass, making it the lowest-mass planet ever directly imaged around a star like the sun. This image is an artist's representation of the alien world.

Hubble Finds a True Blue Planet: Giant Jupiter-Sized Planet Located 63 Light-Years Away   Science Daily - July 11, 2013

he cobalt blue color doesn't come from the reflection of a tropical ocean, but rather from a hazy blow-torched atmosphere and perhaps from high clouds laced with silicate particles. The condensation temperature of silicates could form very small drops of glass that would scatter blue light more than red light.

Bizarro in blue: Alien planet's color detected for the first time   MSNBC - July 11, 2013

For the first time, astronomers have detected the color of a planet beyond our solar system: It's blue, but not because there's water on its surface. It doesn't even have a "surface." Instead, the color is thought to come from glassy grains of silicate in its choking atmosphere. The planet, known as HD 189733b, is a blazing hot gas giant circling a star 63 light-years from Earth in the northern constellation Vulpecula.

Diamond Planet Found - Part of "Whole New Class?   National Geographic - October 12, 2012

The universe just got a bit richer with the discovery of an apparent diamond-rich planet orbiting a nearby star. Dubbed 55 Cancri e, the rocky world is only twice the size of Earth but has eight times its mass - classifying it as a "super Earth," a new study says. First detected crossing in front of its parent star in 2011, the close-in planet orbits its star in only 18 hours. As a result, surface temperatures reach an uninhabitable 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,150 degrees Celsius) - which, along with carbon, make perfect conditions for creating diamonds.

Nasa's Kepler telescope finds planet orbiting two suns   BBC - September 16, 2011

Named Kepler-16b, it is thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, like Saturn. The newly detected body lies some 200 light years from Earth. Though there have been hints in the past that planets circling double stars might exist - "circumbinary planets", as they are known - scientists say this is the first confirmation. It means when the day ends on Kepler-16b, there is a double sunset, they say.

Saturn has rings - this planet has diamonds   MSNBC - August 25, 2011

A newly discovered alien planet that formed from a dead star is a real diamond in the rough. The super-high pressure of the planet, which orbits a rapidly pulsing neutron star, has likely caused the carbon within it to crystallize into an actual diamond, a new study suggests. The composition of the planet, which is about five times the size of Earth, is not its only outstanding feature.

"Diamond" Planet Found; May Be Stripped Star   Live Science - August 25, 2011
The newfound planet orbits the pulsar so closely the entire system would fit inside the sun. An exotic planet as dense as diamond has been found in the Milky Way, and astronomers think the world is a former star that got transformed by its orbital partner. The odd planet was discovered orbiting what's known as a millisecond pulsar - a tiny, fast-spinning corpse of a massive star that died in a supernova. Astronomers estimate that the newfound planet is 34,175 miles (55,000 kilometers) across, or about five times Earth's diameter.

Darkest Planet Found: Coal-Black, It Reflects Almost No Light   National Geographic - August 12, 2011
It may be hard to imagine a planet blacker than coal, but that's what astronomers say they've discovered in our home galaxy with NASA's Kepler space telescope. Orbiting only about three million miles out from its star, the Jupiter-size gas giant planet, dubbed TrES-2b, is heated to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius). Yet the apparently inky world appears to reflect almost none of the starlight that shines on it, according to a new study.

  Alien planet looks 'just right' for life   MSNBC - September 30, 2010
Astronomers say they've found the first planet beyond our solar system that could have the right size and setting to sustain life as we know it, only 20 light-years from Earth.

  Alien life certain to exist on Earth-like planet, scientists say - September 30, 2010

Alien life certain to exist on Earth-like planet, scientists say. The chances of alien life existing on a newly-discovered Earth-like planet are 100 per cent, an astronomer has claimed.

Scientists find potentially habitable planet near Earth   PhysOrg - September 29, 2010
If confirmed, this would be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one. To astronomers, a "potentially habitable" planet is one that could sustain life, not necessarily one that humans would consider a nice place to live. Habitability depends on many factors, but liquid water and an atmosphere are among the most important.

Planet Found With Comet-like Tail   National Geographic - July 16, 2010

Kuiper Belt world measured in star pass   BBC - June 16, 2010
Astronomers say they have observed, for the first time, a distant icy world orbiting beyond Neptune as it passed briefly in front of a bright star.

  Turning Planetary Theory Upside Down   PhysOrg - April 13, 2010
Up to now it was expected that exoplanets would all orbit in more or less the same plane, and that they would move along their orbits in the same direction as the star's rotation - as they do in our solar system. However, new results unexpectedly show that many exoplanets actually orbit at a large angle to their star's spin axis. In the case shown here (WASP 8b) the orbit is completely reversed, or retrograde.

New planet displays exotic orbit   BBC - August 12, 2009

Astronomers have discovered the first planet that orbits in the opposite direction to the spin of its star.

Telescope spies newborn planet BBC - January 3, 2008
Astronomers have discovered a newborn planet in a solar system that is still in the process of forming - the first example of this ever found. Planets are believed to develop within swirling discs of dust and gas around nascent stars. So studying very young examples could tell astronomers much about the birth and evolution of planetary systems - including our own Solar System.