News

Warm Jupiters are not as lonely as expected

15 July 2016 Astronomy Now

After analysing four years of observations from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers from the University of Toronto have given us our clearest understanding yet of a class of exoplanets called “warm Jupiters,” showing that many have unexpected planetary companions.

News

Cloudy days on exoplanets may hide atmospheric water

9 June 2016 Astronomy Now

Water is a hot topic in the study of exoplanets, including “hot Jupiters” close to their parent stars that can reach a scorching 1,100 °C, meaning any water they host would take the form of vapour. Hot Jupiters have been found with water in their atmospheres, but others appear to have none. NASA scientists wanted to find out what the atmospheres of these giant worlds have in common.

News

Kepler-223 star system has four mini-Neptunes in synchronised orbits

12 May 2016 Astronomy Now

A four-planet system orbiting the star Kepler-223 in the constellation Cygnus is actually a rarity: Its planets, all miniature Neptunes nestled close to the star, are orbiting in a unique resonance that has been locked in for billions of years. For every three orbits of the outermost planet, the second orbits four times, the third six times and the innermost eight times.

News

Light echoes give clues to young star’s protoplanetary disc

27 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Protoplanetary discs are ‘doughnuts’ of gas and dust surrounding young stars, the sites where planets form over the course of millions of years. Researchers studying the one-million-year-old infant star YLW 16B, some 400 light-years from Earth, were able to determine the distance from the star to the inner rim of its surrounding protoplanetary disc by observing its light echo.

News

Mystery of missing exoplanet water solved using NASA space telescopes

14 December 2015 Astronomy Now

A survey of ten hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescopes has led a UK-US team to solve a long-standing mystery — why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected. The findings offer new insights into the wide range of planetary atmospheres in our galaxy and how planets are assembled.

News

5,400mph winds hurtling around exoplanet

14 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Wind speeds of over 2 kilometres per second have been discovered flowing around planet outside of our solar system. The University of Warwick discovery is the first time that a weather system on an exoplanet has been directly measured and mapped. The wind speed recorded is 20x greater than the fastest ever known on Earth, where it would be seven times the speed of sound.