planet

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9th Planet May Solve 'Mystery' of Our Solar System

It could explain why orbits are tilted 6 degrees

(Newser) - New research may have solved a "deep-rooted mystery" about our solar system and lent credence to the theory that there's a ninth planet chilling beyond Pluto. (Sorry, buddy.) Researchers at Caltech, including Konstantin Batygin and Mike "Pluto Killer" Brown (who first floated the "Planet Nine"... More »

Scientists 'Hit the Jackpot' With Outer-Space Discovery

Earth-like planet found right next-door

(Newser) - After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door, the AP reports. A planet that is rocky like Earth and only slightly bigger has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system, scientists... More »

Finally, an Explanation for Mercury's Dark Surface

Comets didn't carry in the carbon, but rather disrupted what was already there

(Newser) - Mercury's mysterious surface darkness has baffled scientists: Though it's far closer to the sun than our moon, the latter reflects more sunlight. Last year, it was proposed that the root cause is carbon. As Patrick Peplowski of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory tells the Christian Science ... More »

Kepler 'Rises From the Ashes,' Finds a 'Super-Earth'

Unlivable new planet about 2.5 times the size of Earth discovered during K2 mission

(Newser) - The Kepler spacecraft has had its shares of ups and downs since its 2009 launch. The downs have included a 2013 mechanical failure that left Kepler supposedly "beyond repair" . The ups have included a "resourceful strategy" that made use of pressure from sunlight to allow Kepler to be... More »

To Search for Aliens, Look for ... Air Pollution?

Air pollution could signal intelligent life on other planets: researchers

(Newser) - Astrobiologists look for extraterrestrial life by searching for gases (i.e. methane and oxygen) that suggest the possibility of life, or for radio or laser signals in the hopes of communicating with distant alien life forms. But now a team of astronomers at Harvard is suggesting we also look for... More »

Finally, Evidence of Other World That Helped Form Moon

Lunar rocks bolster a long-held theory about how the moon was created

(Newser) - A new analysis of three lunar rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts in the '60s breathes new life into an old theory some thought too simple: that the moon was created when another planet, Theia, crashed into Earth billions of years ago, leaving behind molten debris that eventually cooled... More »

'Godzilla of Earths' Could Harbor Life

Kepler-10c is massive, old, and rocky—a shocking combination

(Newser) - Kepler-10c is a big, rocky planet that may harbor life—but what's most interesting is how big and rocky it is, Space.com reports. An exoplanet about 560 light-years away in the constellation Draco, Kepler-10c was spotted in 2011 and assumed to be gaseous because of its size. But... More »

Jupiter's Great Red Spot Has Really Shrunk

It looks more like a circle than an oval

(Newser) - The signature red spot we see in pictures of Jupiter could fit three Earths next to each other—in the late 1800s. The Great Red Spot is getting smaller, and the reason is a mystery, Reuters reports. It was some 25,000 miles across in the late 19th century; by... More »

Scientists Find Mysterious Changes in Earth's Spin

Something at Earth's core responsible for changes every 6 years

(Newser) - How fast our planet turns—and, in turn, how long our day is—is not a stagnant thing. In fact, it changes every 5.9 years, according to a new study published in Nature . The Earth spins slightly faster or slower on a regular cycle, adding or subtracting milliseconds to... More »

Water Vapor Found on Distant Planet

Astronomers take incredibly close look at far-away gas giant

(Newser) - Scientists say they've spotted water vapor and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of a huge gas planet some 130 light-years from Earth, NBC News reports. That doesn't mean life exists there—the planet, HR 8799c, is way too hot and gassy—but it does highlight our growing ability... More »

Scientists Spot Smallest Planet Ever Seen

Exoplanet Kepler-37b is the size of our moon

(Newser) - Scientists have discovered the smallest known planet, just a third of the size of the Earth. Mercury, the smallest in our solar system, is two-fifths Earth's size, the AP notes; the new discovery, Kepler-37b, is a far-off exoplanet. "This research shows for the first time that other stellar... More »

World's Oldest Trees Dying at Alarming Rate

Research shows 10 times the normal death rate

(Newser) - In what one researcher calls a "very, very disturbing trend," new research finds that the planet's oldest trees have started dying at 10 times the normal rate, a change that could greatly damage the planet's ecosystems and biodiversity. Researchers blame logging, development, drought, and climate change... More »

'Homeless' Planet Seen Adrift in Deep Space

It's cold, young, and doesn't orbit a star

(Newser) - Astronomers have identified a "homeless" planet for the first time and given it a rather un-catchy label: CFBDSIR2149. This young and very cold planet is drifting about 100 light-years away with a group of roughly 30 stars, but isn't orbiting any of them—which makes its blue light... More »

Astrophysicist 'Finds' Superman's Planet Krypton

Neil deGrasse Tyson gives DC Comics a hand

(Newser) - OK, the planet Krypton still isn't real—but now we know where it would be if it existed. Using data from DC Comics, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has found a spot in space for Superman's home planet, the New York Post reports. "One of our staffers reached... More »

Planet Spotted in Solar System Next-Door

But Earth-sized Alpha Centauri planet is too hot for life

(Newser) - Excited astronomers have spotted an Earth-sized planet as close as it is possible to find one outside our solar system. The rocky planet discovered by a European team circles one of the three stars in the Alpha Centauri system, the sun's nearest neighbor at just 4.4 light years... More »

Giant Star Caught Devouring Planet

A similar fate awaits Earth, scientists say

(Newser) - Astronomers observing the Perseus constellation have caught a glimpse of the fate that awaits our own planet: digestion inside a giant star. Unusual amounts of lithium were detected inside the elderly red giant BD+48 740, and a surviving planet has shifted to a strange elliptical orbit, leading researchers to conclude... More »

Venus to Cross Sun for Last Time This Century

Transit occurs Tuesday; next one in 2117

(Newser) - This Tuesday, Venus will move between the Earth and the sun—and you may want to catch it now, because you probably won't be around when it happens again in 2117. The event will be visible throughout the US shortly before sunset. On the East Coast, you'll want... More »

New 'Water World' Confirmed

GJ 1214b water world may yield 'hot ice’ or ‘superfluid water'

(Newser) - A hot and steamy water world 40 light years away has been identified as the first known member of a whole new class of planets. Researchers using the Hubble space telescope have confirmed that planet GJ 1214b, first spotted in 2009 , contains a much higher proportion of water than any... More »

'Super Earth' Spotted, Might Support Life

GG 667Cc orbits star 22 light years away

(Newser) - A planet in a triple-star system a relatively close 22 light years away is the best candidate yet for supporting life, researchers say. The rocky planet, GJ 667Cc, is around 4.5 times the size of Earth and orbits in the middle of the "Goldilocks zone" where water can... More »

Space Telescope Spots Earth-Sized Worlds

Kepler discoveries are smallest exoplanets yet found

(Newser) - For the first time, scientists have discovered planets roughly the size of ours outside our solar system. Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f are the smallest exoplanets yet found, Discovery reports. Because they're so close to the star they orbit, they don't appear habitable, but the finding is "next major... More »

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