Category: Exoplanets

There are more planets than stars in the galaxy?

“Every star twinkling in the night sky plays host to an average of 1.6 planets, a new study suggests.” more

Coffee! “Scientist creates lifelike cells out of metal”

“‘I am 100 percent positive that we can get evolution to work outside organic biology,’ he said.” more

Conference to grapple with Earth’s rarity – a welcome change

“Well, there are several unusual aspects of our planet,” she said. “First is our strong magnetic field. No one is exactly sure how it works, but … more

An Earth-like planet at last?

“The Kepler team is preparing a proposal to extend the instrument’s operations for another year or more.” more

Exoplanets: Could they support life that has a different chemical composition?

“Some scientists deplore the emphasis on animals like us, saying it is hopelessly parochial and unimaginative” more

18 new planets – and one question

What if we find 18,000 planets that don’t support life and none that do? Would it be time for a revisit of the basic “They’re Out There” hypothesis? more

Planetary Habitability Index: Conjuring life on other planets

From “Planets’ life-hosting potential ranked” (CBC News, Nov 24, 2011), we learn, Plugging in parameters such as a planet’s mass, radius, and average temperature generates a series of measures in the Earth Similarity Index, which “provides a quick screening tool with which to detect exoplanets most similar to Earth,” said Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist at […] more

Why we don’t see way more planets

They smash into black holes and disappear. more

16 new super-Earths – but what do they prove?

Biology isn’t physics. What we think should exist may not happen to. Suppose we set out to find a native North American monkey. more

Rare Earth: Did cosmic collisions reduce the chance for habitable planets?

Study finds, smaller, rocky planets that might harbour life then get chucked out into deep space, leaving gas giants close to the parent stars. Ours didn’t. more

Darkest known exoplanet: Exoplanets better as collectibles than homes for life?

From “Darkest Known Exoplanet: Alien World Is Blacker Than Coal” (ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2011) we learn: Astronomers have discovered the darkest known exoplanet — a distant, Jupiter-sized gas giant known as TrES-2b. Their measurements show that TrES-2b reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it blacker than coal or any […] more

Alien life best sought on dying suns?

At New Scientist (29 June 2011) we learn from Ken Croswell that “Dying stars hold the promise of alien life”: WELCOME to Procyon B, a nearby star that’s light years away from the sun, and not only in distance terms. Unlike the healthy star we circle, Procyon B is dim and dying. Having thrown off […] more

Okay, so Earth IS rare … and who predicted that?

Here’s Lee Billings at New Scientist coming to the point with admirable swiftness: Two decades of searching have failed to turn up another planetary system like ours. Should we be worried?- “No place like home: Our lonesome solar system” (11 May 2011) He answers his own question, in part: It was clear we had ignored […] more

Another unusual, life-free exoplanet

“’Exotic’ planet is densest of its kind: 55 Cancri e as dense as lead and has year less than 18 hours long,” we learn from Emily Chung, CBC News (Apr 29, 2011): 55 Cancri e is a super-Earth located in a very tight, short orbit around a yellow dwarf star similar to Corot-7b, above. Corot 7b […] more

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