Another planet in our neighborhood

Astronomers have discovered a potentially rocky planet around a red dwarf star just 11 light-years away.

I spent countless nights as a child gazing up at the night sky and wondering what was out there. Did those stars harbor planets, and if so, were those planets anything like our Earth? Could there be other stargazers, looking up at an alien sky?

This artist’s impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. ESO / M. Kornmesse

 

The exoplanet field, which has exploded in the last 20 years, is beginning to answer these questions. With thousands of planets identified around other stars, the field has moved beyond discovery to statistical understanding. We now know that small rocky planets like our Earth are common and that the most common type of star (M dwarfs) is one of the most likely hosts for planets. These statistics are evident in the recent discovery of Proxima b, a planet orbiting our closest stellar neighbor, but that’s not the only planet around a nearby star.

Read more at Sky & Telescope

Advertisements

The First Exomoon?

Astronomers have found one of the best exomoon candidates based on data collected by the Kepler spacecraft. Now they just need the Hubble observations to check if it exists.

Saturn's Moons

This image from the Cassini spacecraft shows four of Saturn’s moons and the outskirts of the planet’s rings. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is in the background. In front of it and above the rings at center is Dione, one of the mid-size moons. The small moon Pandora orbits beyond the rings on the right of the image. Finally, Pan peeks out as a spot in the Encke Gap of the A ring on the left of the image. Credit:NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

Astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets orbiting their host stars. Yet, despite thousands of observations, one type of detection has proven elusive: the signal of an exomoon.

Check out my article at Sky & Telescope detailing the latest news from the Cool Worlds Lab at Columbia University.