Won't you please, please won't you be my neighbor? NASA's Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The 'Habitable Zone' of Another Star.
Kepler-186f is a planet about ten percent bigger than Earth that orbits within the habitable zone of its star. The light there is dim and orange,
and it only gets about a third of the sunshine we do, but that may be enough for life. If you go outside tonight, there might be someone 500 light years away looking back at you...
The Kepler mission
has changed the way we think about extrasolar planets and their abundance
. It turns out that nature produces a bewildering variety
of planetary systems, each in their own infinite majesty
. But maybe, just maybe, you can do better
? [more inside]
is a free (but not open source) program that allows you to fly through
vast reaches of the universe. Along the way, you'll see some pretty amazing vistas and probably want to take screenshots
of them. It incorporates a good amount of real-world data about the solar system, exoplanets
and the universe in general with procedural generation of everything we don't know. [more inside]
Carl Sagan wrote, “We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” But how will humans or our machine representatives fly to the stars? [more inside]
NASA has announced
that the latest Kepler data dump
contains 1,091 extrasolar planet
candidates, with 196 Earth-sized planets among them. The data shows "a clear trend toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods is evident with each new catalog release. This suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant." Total Kepler candidates as of February 27, 2012: 2,321
. [more inside]
The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog
is a database of the planets outside our solar system which are considered the most suitable for life according to certain steps
. So far 16 have been identified
as possible candidates. This Guardian article
is a good introduction. You can also just dive into the catalogue, which ranks planets on two main scales, similarity to Earth
and surface habitability
(note that all images are computer renderings
). The catalog is a project of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory
at University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo (home to the world's largest radiotelescope).
have just published a paper entitled "Gliese 581d is the 1st discovered terrestrial-mass exoplanet in the habitable zone", claiming that their computer model suggests the exoplanet
"will have a stable atmosphere and surface liquid water for a wide range of plausible cases."
We've discovered a lot
of exoplanets. And there are a lot
to help you keep track. Previously.
lets users comb through data from the Kepler mission
in search of exoplanets
. [via Bad Astronomy
A hot carbon-rich gas giant exoplanet, WASP-12b, has been discovered
. As the lead author
of the paper being published today, Nikku Madhusudhan
, says: ""This planet reveals the astounding diversity of worlds out there". In particular, the discovery supports theories that there are likely to be planets made of diamond
and graphite out there.
Amid news of new extrasolar planet discoveries, including a system with a possible 7 planets
, Greg Laughlin
and Sam Arbesman
have released a paper
that will be published
next month in the open-access journal PLoS One. "A Scientometric Prediction of the Discovery of the First Potentially Habitable Planet with a Mass Similar to Earth
" (pdf of full paper
) boldly predicts that: "the first potentially habitable planet will be discovered, in this case, as early as May 2011, and likely by the end of 2013.
" NASA's Kepler mission
is set to release data on hundreds of candidate planets early next year. The mission has discovered 7 so far
Many planets have been found circling other stars, but the prevailing search techniques turn up results encouraging but bizarre
. (encouraging, previously
) Gravitational micro-lensing has made it possible to OGLE
a solar system much like our own.... You're not alone.
: ESA telescope detects planet
20 lightyears away with a temperature between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, dubbed "most Earth-like planet yet