New Planets

Nearby planet is 'excellent' target in search for life   BBC - November 15, 2017
Astronomers have found a cool, Earth-sized planet that's relatively close to our Solar System. The properties of this newly discovered planet - called Ross 128 b - make it a prime target in the search for life elsewhere in the cosmos. At just 11 light-years away, it's the second closest exoplanet of its kind to Earth. But the closest one, known as Proxima b, looks to be less hospitable for life. Found in 2016, it orbits the star Proxima Centauri, which is known to be a rather active "red dwarf" star. This means that powerful eruptions of charged particles periodically batter Proxima b with harmful radiation. The new planet, Ross 128 b, orbits a star that's not dissimilar to Proxima Centauri (it's also a red dwarf), but is significantly less active.

'Iceball' planet discovered through microlensing   Science Daily - April 26, 2017
Scientists have discovered a new planet with the mass of Earth, orbiting its star at the same distance that we orbit our sun. The planet is likely far too cold to be habitable for life as we know it, however, because its star is so faint. But the discovery adds to scientists' understanding of the types of planetary systems that exist beyond our own.

  Star's seven Earth-sized worlds set record   BBC - February 22, 2017
Astronomers have detected a record seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star. The researchers say that all seven could potentially support liquid water on the surface, depending on the other properties of those planets. But only three are within the conventional "habitable" zone where life is considered a possibility. The compact system of exoplanets orbits Trappist-1, a low-mass, cool star located 40 light-years away from Earth.

  Closest potentially habitable planet to our solar system found   CNN - August 24, 2016
In a discovery that has been years in the making, researchers have confirmed the existence of a rocky planet named Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun, according to a new study. It is the closest exoplanet to us in the universe. Given the fact that Proxima b is within the habitable zone of its star, meaning liquid water could exist on the surface, it may also be the closest possible home for life outside of our solar system, the researchers said. Because of its location, the researchers hope that it provides an opportunity to "attempt further characterization via ongoing searches by direct imaging and high-resolution spectroscopy in the next decades, and possibly robotic exploration in the coming centuries."

Found! Potentially Earth-Like Planet at Proxima Centauri Is Closest Ever   Live Science - August 24, 2016
Astronomers have discovered a roughly Earth-size alien world around Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.2 light-years from our own solar system. What's even more exciting, study team members said, is that the planet, known as Proxima b, circles in the star's "habitable zone" - the range of distances at which liquid water could be stable on a world's surface.

Newborn giant planet grazes its star   Science Daily - June 21, 2016
For the past 20 years, exoplanets known as 'hot Jupiters' have puzzled astronomers. These giant planets orbit 100 times closer to their host stars than Jupiter does to the Sun, which increases their surface temperatures. But how and when in their history did they migrate so close to their star? Now, an international team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a very young hot Jupiter orbiting in the immediate vicinity of a star that is barely two million years old -- the stellar equivalent of a week-old infant. This first-ever evidence that hot Jupiters can appear at such an early stage represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve.

Evidence of a real ninth planet discovered   Science Daily - January 20, 2016
Researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

Astronomers see pebbles poised to make planets - July 7, 2015
A team of astronomers led from St. Andrews and Manchester universities has announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a young star. This is the first time these 'pebbles', thought to be a crucial link in building planets, have been detected. Planets are thought to form from the dust and gas that encircles young stars in a disk. Over time, dust particles stick together until they build up bigger clumps. Eventually, these have enough mass that gravity becomes significant, and over millions of years the clumps crash together to make planets and moons. In our own solar system, this process took place about 4.5 billion years ago, with the giant planet Jupiter the first to form.

Bizarre Comet-like Alien Planet Is First of Its Kind   Live Science - June 25, 2015
A Neptune-size planet appears to be masquerading as a comet, with a gargantuan stream of gas flowing behind it like a comet's tail. The bizarre find is the first of its kind ever discovered by astronomers. The strange, comet-like planet, known as GJ 436b, is orbiting a red dwarf star and is about 22 times as massive as Earth. Astronomers detected the giant gas cloud around the planet using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.