Unlocking the mysteries of super Earths

8 February 2018 Astronomy Now

Three planets orbiting a star 100 light years away may serve as a test bed of sorts to shed light on the dividing line between rocky super Earths and sub-Neptune “gassy” planets with the full range represented in a single solar system.


Astrophysicist proposes new definition of a planet

22 January 2018 Astronomy Now

Pluto hogs the spotlight in the continuing scientific debate over what is and what is not a planet, but a less conspicuous argument rages on about the planetary status of massive objects outside our solar system. The dispute is not just about semantics, as it is closely related to how giant planets like Jupiter form.


First light achieved for next-generation planet-hunter

6 December 2017 Astronomy Now

A new planet-seeking instrument installed on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile has made its first observations, beginning a search for exoplanets with unprecedented precision by looking at the minuscule changes in the light of their host stars.


Closest temperature world orbiting quiet star discovered

16 November 2017 Astronomy Now

A temperate Earth-sized planet has been discovered only 11 light-years from the Solar System. The new world has the designation Ross 128 b and is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. It is also the closest planet to be discovered orbiting an inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the likelihood that this planet could potentially sustain life.