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The search for planets. Learn how distant worlds are being discovered: Discovering New Worlds
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14 Dec 2012 Venus Transit and Lunar Mirror Help Find Exoplanets
On 6 June 2012 Venus passed directly between the Earth and the Sun, in a so-called transit where the planet appears as a silhouette against the solar disk, something that will not happen again until 5 December 2117. A team of Italian astronomers used the opportunity to perform an unusual and challenging experiment, looking at the sunlight reflected off the Moon ('moonlight') to see how it changed during the transit. This technique could help scientists to find planets in orbit around other stars.
14 Nov 2012 Lost in Space: Rogue Planet Spotted?
Astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope have identified a body that is very probably a planet wandering through space without a parent star. This is the most exciting free-floating planet candidate so far and the closest such object to the Solar System at a distance of about 100 light-years. Its comparative proximity, and the absence of a bright star very close to it, has allowed the team to study its atmosphere in great detail. This object also gives astronomers a preview of the exoplanets that future instruments aim to image around stars other than the Sun.
7 Nov 2012 A Super-Earth in a Six-Planet System
A new super-Earth planet that may have an Earth-like climate and be just right to support life has been discovered around a nearby star by an international team of astronomers. The new super-Earth planet exists in the habitable zone of a nearby star and is part of a six-planet system. The system was previously thought to contain three planets in orbits too close to the star to support liquid water. By avoiding fake signals caused by stellar activity, the researchers have identified three new super-Earth planet candidates also in orbit.
16 Oct 2012 Planet Hunters Find Circumbinary Planet in 4-Star System
PH1 is a Neptune-size planet, with radius about 6.2 times that of Earth's with a 138 day orbit. The two parent stars have masses about 1.5 and 0.41 times that of the sun and circle each other once every 20 days. Two other stars orbit PH1's twin suns at a distance of about 1,000 astronomical units. This strange, four-star planetary system is the first confirmed world discovered as part of the Yale University-led Planet Hunters project, in which armchair astronomers work with professional scientists to find evidence of new worlds in the bountiful data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope.
16 Oct 2012 Alpha Centauri Has a Planet
Astronomers have announced they have found a planet orbiting one of the stars making up the most famous star in the sky: Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own! At 4.3 light years distant, this is far and away the closest exoplanet known.
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014