“Planet Earths” –Common in the Universe

 

White Dwarf Star

 

“We have just raised the probability that many rocky planets are like the Earth, and there’s a very large number of rocky planets in the universe,” said Edward Young, UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry. “We’re studying geochemistry in rocks from other stars, which is almost unheard of.”

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“Awaiting Discovery” –Unseen Population of Jupiter-Like Planets Orbiting Nearby Sun-Like Stars

 

Gas Giant Exoplanet

 

There is an as-yet-unseen population of Jupiter-like planets orbiting nearby Sun-like stars, awaiting discovery by future missions like NASA’s WFIRST space telescope, according to new models of gas giant planet formation by observational astronomer Alan Boss, supported by a new Science paper on the surprising discovery of a gas giant planet orbiting a low-mass star. Boss’s work focuses on the Astrometric Planet Search project, which has been underway for the last decade at Carnegie Institute’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile..

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“A Hubble First” –Exoplanet Hosting both Water & Temperature That Could Support Life

Hubble Super Earth K2-18b

 

K2-18b, which is eight times the mass of Earth, is now the only exoplanet known to have both water and temperatures that could support life. The discovery is the first successful atmospheric detection for an exoplanet orbiting in its star’s ‘habitable zone’, at a distance where water can exist in liquid form.

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“Extreme Destruction” –Volcanic Exo-Moon Detected Similar to Jupiter’s Io

Jupiter's Moon Io

 

“While the current wave of research is going towards habitability and biosignatures, our signature is a signature of destruction,” astrophysicist Apurva Oza at the Physics Institute of the University of Bern about the detection of an “exo-moon” hidden at the exoplanet system WASP-49b that appears to be an extreme version of Jupiter’s moon Io –the volcanic epicenter of our solar system. “A few of these worlds could be destroyed in a few billion years due to the extreme mass loss. The exciting part is that we can monitor these destructive processes in real time, like fireworks.”

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“Clouds of Rock” –Nighsides of Hot Jupiter Exoplanets

Hot Jupiter Darkside

 

Using data from the Spitzer Space and the Hubble Space telescopes, a new study by astronomers from the McGill Space Institute has found that the temperature on the nightsides of different hot Jupiters is surprisingly uniform at about 800°C, suggesting the dark side of these massive gaseous planets have clouds made of minerals and rocks.

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Last Week’s Top 5 Space & Science Headlines –“Milky Way’s First Civilization to Jupiter’s 350-Year Mystery”

ESO Observatories

 

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