Heavens

Forty-four planets in solar systems beyond our own have been unveiled in one go, dwarfing the usual number of confirmations from extrasolar surveys, which is typically a dozen or less. The findings will improve our models of solar systems and may help researchers investigate exoplanet atmospheres. Novel techniques developed to validate the find could hugely accelerate the confirmation of more extrasolar planet candidates.

A research team, led by the astronomers from National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC), Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered the most lithium-rich giant ever known to date, with lithium abundance 3,000 times higher than normal giants. It is in the direction of Ophiuchus, north side of the Galactic disk, with a distance of 4,500 light years to Earth.

There may be more habitable planets in the universe than we previously thought, according to Penn State geoscientists, who suggest that plate tectonics -- long assumed to be a requirement for suitable conditions for life -- are in fact not necessary.

When searching for habitable planets or life on other planets, scientists look for biosignatures of atmospheric carbon dioxide. On Earth, atmospheric carbon dioxide increases surface heat through the greenhouse effect. Carbon also cycles to the subsurface and back to the atmosphere through natural processes.

Scientists have identified a group of planets outside our solar system where the same chemical conditions that may have led to life on Earth exist.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC LMB), found that the chances for life to develop on the surface of a rocky planet like Earth are connected to the type and strength of light given off by its host star.

Something mysterious is going on at the Sun. In defiance of all logic, its atmosphere gets much, much hotter the farther it stretches from the Sun's blazing surface.

ATLANTA--A thin gap has been discovered on the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (HRD), the most fundamental of all maps in stellar astronomy, a finding that provides new information about the interior structures of low mass stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, according to a study led by astronomers at Georgia State University.

Providing resolution to a decades-long debate over whether liquid water is present on Mars, researchers using radar to probe the planet's polar ice caps have detected a lake of liquid water under the Martian ice. It stretches 20 kilometers across, they say. The detection was made using the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) instrument on the Mars Express spacecraft. MARSIS sends radar pulses that penetrate the surface and ice caps of the planet, then measures how the radio waves propagate and reflect back to the spacecraft.

Maunakea, Hawaii - A team of astronomers has discovered a new way to unlock the mysteries of how the first galaxies formed and evolved.

In a study published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters, lead author Dawn Erb of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her team - for the very first time - used new capabilities at W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii to examine Q2343-BX418, a small, young galaxy located about 10 billion light years away from Earth.

Metallic hydrogen is one of the rarest materials on Earth, yet more than 80 percent of planets--including Jupiter, Saturn, and hundreds of extrasolar planets--are composed of this exotic form of matter.

Its abundance in our solar system--despite its rarity on Earth--makes metallic hydrogen an intriguing focus for researchers at the University of Rochester's Laboratory of Laser Energetics (LLE) who study planet formation and evolution, including how planets both inside and outside our solar system form magnetic shields.

While the moon is uninhabitable today, there could have been life on its surface in the distant past.

In fact, there may have been two early windows of habitability for Earth’s moon, according to a study online today in the journal Astrobiology by Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University astrobiologist.