planets

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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 »

3B Years Ago, Venus Might've Been Livable

Climate models suggest it was a lot like early Earth

(Newser) - Venus is perhaps best known as "that torrid acid bath next door," as Gizmodo puts it, with toxic thunderclouds and atmospheric pressure capable of crushing bones, per Science Alert —but it might have looked very different 700 million years ago. After plugging topographic data and the hydrogen... More »

Wacky Planet Has 3 Sunrises, 3 Sunsets Each Day

Or else it spends 140 Earth-years in daylight

(Newser) - Don't let aliens from HD 131399Ab hear you complaining about global warming. The newly discovered planet 340 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus is the first found to be orbiting three suns and is scorching at 1,000 degrees—though that's mostly because of its gas formation.... More »

'Embryo' Planet Plowed Into Earth, Creating Moon —and Stayed

New study suggests Earth is made up of 2 planets that fused in violent collision

(Newser) - Scientists already know that roughly 4.5 billion years ago planet Earth was violently smacked into by another mass —Theia, a so-called "planetary embryo" that was still forming and may have been just as large as Earth. But now UCLA researchers report that the collision was not a... More »

Scientists: There May Be a Giant 9th Planet Past Pluto

Sorry, Pluto—'Planet 9' may be more of a 'massive perturber' than you

(Newser) - Pluto is gonna be PO'd. While the dwarf planet tries to fight its way back into the good graces of Those Who Deem What Counts as a Planet, another icy orb even further out may snatch that designation first. Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology say a giant... More »

5 Brightest Planets Begin Rising Together

Look for them: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury

(Newser) - Like stargazing in the pre-dawn hours? Then here you go: The sky's five brightest planets visible from Earth will soon be lined up for the first time in over a decade, the Conversation reports. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus—which have been up visible together since early January—will... More »

New Definition Could Make the Moon a Planet

Astronomer's mathematical formula could help in identifying exoplanets

(Newser) - You'll remember the International Astronomical Union's redefinition of a planet in 2006 as the move that demoted Pluto to a mere dwarf planet. But scientists recall the change for another reason: The new classification is incredibly vague. Basically, any nearly round celestial body that orbits the sun and... More »

Jupiter, Venus Together This Evening

Look to the west around sunset

(Newser) - Sky watchers get a treat this evening: Venus and Jupiter will appear to be practically on top of each other. The two planets will be separated in the sky by just one-third of a degree, which means you'll be able to cover them both with your pinky finger, notes... More »

Get Ready to Welcome Pluto Back as a Planet

Astronomer thinks Ceres will join the club, too

(Newser) - Vanderbilt astronomer David Weintraub thinks Pluto was wrongly kicked out of the planet club in 2006. But he's confident that this is going to be a very big year for Pluto and for another so-called "dwarf planet" named Ceres, he writes in the Conversation . NASA spacecraft will visit... More »

Giant Exoplanet's Rings a 'Super Saturn'

Impressive 30-ring system is 200 times larger than Saturn

(Newser) - In 2012, scientists discovered a giant exoplanet (one that orbits a star other than our sun) with a ring system so impressive it eclipses its own host star. Now, thanks to a recent eclipse where planet J1407b lined up in front of host star J1407, scientists at the University of... More »

Two Planets May Lurk Beyond Pluto

Astronomers can't otherwise explain behavior of objects way out there

(Newser) - It might soon be time to change all those grade-school dioramas of the solar system again: Astronomers think at least two more planets exist, reports Universe Today . In two studies from the UK and Spain, scientists say the planets' existence is the only way to explain why objects are behaving... More »

Jupiter's Red Spot Isn't What We Thought It Was

Researchers re-create phenomenon in lab

(Newser) - Scientists have made their own version of Jupiter's Great Red Spot in a lab, and it suggests that the spot's cause is very different from what's been postulated. An existing theory holds that the spot is the result of chemicals underneath the planet's clouds. But following... 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 »

NASA Hits 715-Planet 'Jackpot'

Kepler data massively boosts number of known worlds

(Newser) - NASA says it has almost doubled the number of planets known to humanity with a "bonanza" uncovered by its planet-hunting Kepler telescope. The 715 new planets orbit 305 stars in multi-planet systems like our own, and 94% of them are smaller than Neptune. NASA says it has found... More »

Alien Life? Maybe Believers Were Right All Along

Bloomberg editors: Each new discovery seems to improve the odds

(Newser) - The editors at Bloomberg aren't exactly making the case that little green men are out there, but they think it's high time we all wrapped our heads around the possibility of alien life. Consider that just this week, a study found that billions of Earth-like planets exist, each... More »

Scientists Discover 'Lonely Planet'

It's got no sun around which to orbit

(Newser) - Have you ever felt bad for a planet? OK, probably not, but you might now. Scientists have discovered a new, "lonely planet," 80 light years away from Earth that doesn’t have a sun to orbit around. According to NBC , these starless wonders have been discovered before, but... More »

Milky Way Has 17B Planets the Size of Ours

And that's a conservative estimate

(Newser) - Before we start feeling too special about our home planet, scientists have a message: There are at least 17 billion planets the size of Earth in the Milky Way alone, Space.com reports. About 17% of our galaxy's stars have Earth-size exoplanets closely orbiting them—so 100 billion stars... More »

Milky Way: Home to 100B+ Planets

New study comes up with conservative estimate

(Newser) - Scientists have done a sort of "cosmic census," completing a new study that finds the Milky Way galaxy is home to 100 billion alien planets—and maybe even many more than that. "It's a staggering number, if you think about it," says the lead author.... More »

Mercury Harbors Lots of Ice

Frozen water confirmed at planet's north pole

(Newser) - Just in time for Christmas, scientists have confirmed a vast amount of ice at the north pole—on Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. The findings are from NASA's Mercury-orbiting probe, Messenger, and the subject of three scientific papers released today by the journal Science. The frozen water... More »

'Tatooine-Like' Planet Found With 4 Suns

Astronomers discover world about 5K light-years away

(Newser) - Luke Skywalker would not consider this a big deal, but some of us earthlings are getting excited. Astronomers have discovered a Tatooine-like planet that orbits two suns and is also orbited by two other stars, Space.com reports. Called PH1, the gas giant is about six times bigger than Earth... More »

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