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Hubble Spots Hazy Worlds With Watery Atmospheres

The Hubble Space Telescope has spied five alien worlds around distant stars that show clear signs of water vapor filling their atmospheres, according to a new study. The find represents the first conclusive detection and comparison of water vapor in the atmosphere of planets orbiting nearby stars. While they all have unromantic names like WASP-17b,…

New-found Earth-size Exoplanet Doomed

Astronomers announced this week that they have spotted a rocky Earth-size planet beyond our solar system, the smallest alien world accurately sized by observers to date. However, the super-hot planet is no second Earth, and according to theories, the distant world some 700 light-years away from Earth shouldn’t exist. The planet, Kepler-78b, was first discovered by…

First Cloud Map of a Planet Beyond our Solar System

After cataloging nearly a thousand worlds beyond our solar system, astronomers can now for the first time forecast cloudy skies on a distant exoplanet. While the above image may not resemble a weather map, it shows a first look at clouds on a hot, Jupiter-like world dubbed Kepler 7b, which resides nearly 1000 light years…

New Exoplanet Circles Star in Less Than 9 Hours (and Is Covered by Molten Lava)

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has helped discover a new Earth-sized planet that has a year that lasts less time than an average work day or a good night’s sleep. Kepler 78b zips around its host star in a mere 8.5 hours — making this one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected. (See also: “Most…

Bumper Crop of Habitable Worlds Discovered?

Astronomers believe they have found an alien solar system packed with a record-breaking three potentially habitable worlds. New observations of the star Gliese 667C—about one-third the mass of our sun—is home to between five and seven planets, three of which are classified as super-Earths. All three are larger than our own planet, but smaller than…

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond Planet

There’s a gigantic diamond in outer space, according to new research from a team led by Yale University scientists. About as twice as big as Earth and with eight times more mass, the rocky planet is a “Super Earth” and orbits a star 40 light years away in the constellation Cancer. First detected in 2004, …

Will *You* Spot the First Truly Earthlike Planet?

UPDATE: In Wednesday’s press conference, the Kepler team announced the new public data includes readings on several hundred new planetary candidates. The findings increase the number of planet candidates Kepler’s found to 1,235. Of these, 68 are roughly Earth-size, 288 are super Earth-size, 662 are Neptune-size, 165 are Jupiter-size, and 19 are larger than Jupiter.…