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Periodic Table of Exoplanets Neatly Classifies Over 3,700 Known Worlds

Astronomer Abel Méndez‏ from the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico has put together a Periodic Table of Exoplanets, where each of the 3,700 confirmed exoplanets is slotted into its own discrete category—including planets that could harbor life. Read More >>

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This Tiny Star Hosts a Planet Nearly the Size of Jupiter

Using an innovative new telescope array, an international team of researchers has discovered a distant gas giant roughly the size of Jupiter around a star half the size of ours. It’s considered the largest planet in proportion to its companion star. Read More >>

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Hubble Observations Suggest Water May Be Abundant on Outer TRAPPIST-1 Planets

From the moment that seven Earth-sized planets were discovered in orbit around TRAPPIST-1—an ultracool dwarf star located 39 light years away—astronomers have been busy trying to learn everything they can about this intriguing star system, particularly its potential to foster life. Recently, an international team of scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to assess the chances of water existing on these planets—and the results are promising. Read More >>

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Did Scientists Just Spot the First Exomoon?

Thanks largely to NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets lurking outside our solar system. Finding what creeps around those planets, however, has proven itself to be incredibly challenging. While scientists have had a few close calls with exomoons over the years, so far, no discovery’s been legit. But a group of astronomers at Columbia University now think they’ve found an exomoon for real, roughly 4,000 lightyears away. Read More >>

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This Freakishly Hot Exoplanet is Totally Screwed

Approximately 650 light-years away, a Jupiter-like planet is caught in an uncomfortably tight orbit around its toasty hot host star. Featuring a dayside temperature of 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit, this unfortunate planet is literally vaporising, and it has sprouted a distinctly comet-like tail. Astronomers say the planet—the hottest giant exoplanet ever discovered—is not long for this world. Read More >>

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A New Look at Proxima b’s Potential Climate Offers Hope for Future Colonists

Ever since astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-sized exoplanet less than five light years down the cosmic street, the question on every good space cadet’s mind has been whether or not we can colonise it. We’re not going to know if Proxima b is habitable until we can point some very powerful telescopes at it, which won’t happen until next year. But until then, scientists are playing around with models—and one such modelling effort recently came to some promising conclusions. Read More >>

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The Amazing Hypothesis for Why the Trappist-1 System Hasn’t Destroyed Itself

When astronomers announced the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, Earthlings immediately celebrated the possibility that one of those planetary neighbors could host life. But to physicists, TRAPPIST-1 presented a puzzle: How could those seven planets, all packed around a single star closer than Mercury orbits the Sun, survive? Why haven’t they all crashed into each other? Read More >>

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Most Habitable Earth-Like Planets May Be Waterworlds

Over 70 per cent of our planet is covered in water, and we tend to think that’s a lot. A new study suggests that our world is special in this regard, and that most habitable planets are dominated by oceans that consume over 90 per cent their surface area. That may be good for primitive marine life, but not so good for aspiring civilisations. Read More >>

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This Is the Smallest Exoplanet Known to Have an Atmosphere

Using a ground-based telescope, an international team of astronomers has detected traces of an atmosphere around an exoplanet located 39 light-years away. This exoplanet is not much larger than our own, making it the most Earth-like planet known to harbour an atmosphere. Read More >>

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Alien Life Could Be Island Hopping Between TRAPPIST-1 Planets

The TRAPPIST-1 system has totally entranced Earthlings since NASA announced its discovery last month. For both astronomers and tinfoil hat believers (*raises hand*), TRAPPIST-1 is a sign of hope for finding alien life, since three of its planets are located in the habitable zone which supports liquid water. With water comes life, and with life comes alien conspiracy theories—at least that’s the idea. Read More >>

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Here’s Our First Glorious View of the TRAPPIST-1 Star System

Last month, the solar system lost its collective chill when NASA announced the discovery of a seven-planet system called TRAPPIST-1, just 39 light-years from our Sun. The system is particularly exciting, not only because of its proximity to our planet, but because it has three planets within the habitable zone, where liquid water (and potentially life) could be supported. There’s already a website dedicated to these mysterious planets, filled with stunning art and literal fan fiction. In short, TRAPPIST-1 is already getting the One Direction treatment. Read More >>

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The Prospects for Life on TRAPPIST-1 Keep Getting Better

Less than a week ago, the citizens of Earth were introduced (technically, re-introduced) to a star system 39 light years away hosting seven Earth-sized exoplanets, three of which lie squarely in the habitable zone. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, researchers are now suggesting that a fourth of the TRAPPIST-1 planets might be habitable, too—if we stretch our imaginations a bit. Read More >>

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The Hunt For the Next Exoplanet Could Be in the Hands of EVE Online Players

It’s a big week for exoplanets. Not only did NASA confirm that it has spotted seven exoplanets that have Earth-like qualities orbiting TRAPPIST-1, but the makers of the popular massively multiplayer game EVE Online have announced a crowdsourcing effort to get players to identify exoplanets while they explore virtual space. Read More >>

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An Enormous Exoplanet Is Having a Strange Influence on Its Star

There’s a star about 370 light-years from here that’s pulsating in response to its unusually heavy planetary companion. It’s the first time that astronomers have seen this sort of interaction between a planet and its host star. Read More >>

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Scientists Need Your Help Discovering the Next Exoplanet

Calling all space cadets: Today, a group of researchers led by the Carnegie Institute of Science released an impressive database containing 61,000 so-called Doppler velocity measurements of 1,600 nearby stars. The team is graciously inviting you to use their data to find the next exoplanet. Go forth and become drunk with power. Read More >>