NASA’s new planet hunter starts work

30 July 2018 Stephen Clark

NASA’s newest observatory in space has started its search for planets around other stars as astronomers zero in on worlds that are ripe for research by follow-up missions like the James Webb Space Telescope.


Planet with most eccentric orbit flashes astronomers with reflected light

19 March 2016 Astronomy Now

A team of researchers led by San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane were able to detect a signal of reflected light from a planet known as HD 20782 b — a “flash” of starlight bouncing off the planet’s atmosphere as it made its closest orbital approach to its parent star on the most eccentric, comet-like orbit yet seen.


Finding new worlds with a play of light and shadow

1 November 2015 Astronomy Now

One method to discover planets beyond the solar system by far is transit photometry, which measures changes in a star’s brightness when a planet crosses in front of its star along our line of sight. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has used this technique to become the most successful planet-hunting spacecraft to date, with more than a thousand established discoveries. Satellites carrying improved technology for all-sky surveys are now planned, missions that will tell us a great deal about alien planetary systems similar to our own.