“The Whirlpool Planet” –First Alien World Detected in a Galaxy Far Beyond the Milky Way (Weekend Feature)

 

 Whirlpool Galaxy

 

“In less than a hundred years, we have found a new way to think of ourselves,” observed Stephen Hawking. “From sitting at the center of the universe, we now find ourselves orbiting an average-sized sun, which is just one of billions of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy.” And now, a short-lived eclipse of an extremely bright x-ray source 23 million lightyears from Earth in the Whirlpool Galaxy, illuminated a world about the size of Saturn orbiting a binary star system –a stellar remnant, either a neutron star or black hole, and a massive star–further underscoring our cosmic insignificance.

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“Weird Life?” –First Planet Found Orbiting White Dwarf Star

"Weird Life?" --First Planet Found Orbiting White Dwarf Star

 

“This planet is roughly the size of Jupiter, but it also has a very short orbital period — a year on this planet is only 1.4 days, so it’s quickly whipping around its white dwarf star,” said Ian Crossfield, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at University of Kansas about the first-ever discovery of a planet, WD 1856 b, orbiting a white dwarf vestige of a star, like our Sun, that has ballooned into a red giant then collapsed back into a dense, dim core that’s often about the size of Earth.

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“Beyond Anything Found in Our Solar System”

Diamond Exoplanet

 

“The search for planets is the search for life,” said Natalie Batalha, a Kepler mission scientist from NASA’s Ames Research Center. In the search for Earth-like habitable planets, occasionally something truly weird pops up, something unlike anything in our solar system.

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“Unknown Population” –Multi-Star Systems Harboring Planets With Very Strange Orbits

ALMA and SPHERE view of GW Orionis

 

Unlike our remarkably flat Solar System, with its planets all orbiting in the same plane, the alien star-system GW Orionis, located just 1,200 light-years away in the constellation of Orion, has three stars and a deformed, shattered and warped disc of tilted rings surrounding them. “Since more than half of stars in the sky are born with one or more companions, says astronomer Alexander Kreplin of the University of Exeter about pioneering new research that has revealed the first direct evidence that a three-star system can tear apart their planet-forming disc, “this raises an exciting prospect: there could be an unknown population of exoplanets that orbit their stars on very inclined and distant orbits.”

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“Supersharp Vision” –First Exoplanet Discovered by Radio Telescope

 

 TVLM 513-46546 Exoplanet

 

“In the deepest sense, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is a search for ourselves,” said Carl Sagan. Although as yet unfulfilled, the quest continues from the Kepler Mission to Tess and now via the ten 25-meter radio antenna dishes of the continent-wide Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). Astronomers have announced the discovery of a Saturn-sized planet closely orbiting a small, cool star 35 light-years from Earth using the VLBA’s supersharp radio “vision”.

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“Epic” –ESO Captures First-Ever Image of a Sun-Like Multi-Planet System

 

ESO VLT

 

Today the European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released the first ever image of a multi-planet system around a young, Sun-like star accompanied by two giant exoplanets twenty-five years after Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the first discovery of a planet outside our solar system orbiting a solar-type star in our home galaxy, the Milky Way using the Haute-Provence Observatory in southern France. The exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b, discovered using the Doppler spectroscopy technique, which measures wobbles of a star as a planet orbits around it, is a gaseous ball comparable with the solar system’s biggest gas giant, Jupiter.

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