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Exoplanets

  1. Newly Discovered Kepler-421b Has Longest-Known Year of Any Transiting Exoplanet

    One-million, thirteen-thousand, seven-hundred sixty minutes, how do you measure, measure a year?

    Kepler-421b orbits its star at a leisurely pace of making one trip around every 704 Earth days, or nearly half the speed the Earth moves around the Sun. That's not the slowest orbit we've found, but it's significant because Kepler-421b is beyond its star's "Snow Line," and it's a transiting exoplanet. Together those things mean we were incredibly lucky to find it at all.

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  2. New Study Claims the Milky Way Could Contain 100 Million Planets with Complex Life

    It's basically the Drake Equation with more variables.

    In 1961 Frank Drake set out his formula for estimating the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. A new study from the University of Texas at El Paso looks to improve on Drake's estimate by studying data from more than 1,000 exoplanets for a number of factors, and the number they came up with is enormous.

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  3. Meet Kepler-186f, the First Validated Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Red Dwarf

    This was Kepler's big announcement, and it's pretty big.

    We now know what NASA's big Kepler announcement it. It's still going on, so we'll be updating this post. What we know now is that this is the first validated Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a star other than our Sun. That's a big deal.

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  4. This Afternoon NASA Announced the Existence of 715 New Exoplanets

    In other news, my feelings of irrelevancy in the face of the vast universe have increased by 715%.

    In what io9 is describing as the "single largest windfall of new confirmations at any one time," Kepler scientists announced at a teleconference today that they have confirmed the existence of a whopping 715 new exoplanets, but hey, no big deal. All in a day's work.

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  5. One Year on This Tiny Exoplanet Lasts Just Eight and a Half Hours

    In the time it takes you to get a good night's sleep, newly discovered Kepler 78B completes a full orbit around its star.

    It's been a little more than a year since I started here at Geekosystem, and man, has it gone fast. Nowhere near as fast as a year passes on the tiny, molten exoplanet Kepler 78B, though. The planet, discovered by researchers at MIT and elsewhere, completes a breakneck orbit of its home star in just eight and a half hours.

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  6. NASA Abandons Plans to Fully Repair Kepler, Hopes For New Mission

    So long, and thanks for all the exoplanets.

    NASA's Kepler spacecraft used to survey space to find potentially habitable exoplanets, but that was in the before time, in the long long ago. When one of its reaction wheels failed back in May the craft could no longer operate as intended, and now NASA is giving up on trying to get it back into full working order.

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  7. Nearby Star Hosts Three Super-Earths in Habitable Zone

    A closer look at a star once thought to hold no more mysteries reveals a treasure trove of exoplanets.

    An international team of researchers and astronomers  have found what could be the motherlode of habitable exoplanets in a nearby star system. According to a new examination of the data, researchers believe the nearby star Gliese 667C -- found just 22 light years away in the constellation Scorpius -- hosts six planets. That's twice as many bodies as the star was thought to be home to, but that's not the big news. The big news is that three of the planets orbiting Gliese 667C are thought to be in the habitable zone, capable of hosting liquid water, and possibly able to support life.

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  8. The IAU Isn’t Pleased With Uwingu’s Exoplanet Contest

    As you might recall, Uwingu is holding a contest to name an exoplanet. People love naming stuff in space, but it has rarely been in the hands of the people to decide. It's typically left to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to assign designations. It's pretty much their job. They're not too keen on Uwingu taking money from folks in order to give a name to an exoplanet that won't be officially recognized as such, and they've said as much in a recent statement.

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  9. New NASA Planet Hunter TESS Searches Entire Sky, Puts Kepler To Shame

    We've already spotted more than 800 exoplanets beyond our Solar System, and more than a hundred of these were identified by NASA's Kepler mission in the four years since its launch merely by observing one small swath of sky. But now NASA has its sights on even more worlds with the newly green-lit Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a spacecraft set to launch in 2017. Hit the jump to find out what makes this one so different.

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  10. Is This the First Picture of IRL Tatooine?

    A team of astronomers in France believe they have captured the first direct image of a distant planet that orbits a pair of binary stars. It's probably not a lot like Luke's home planet of Tatooine, though, as the enormous object is a gaseous body more than 10 times the size of Jupiter, and leaving the scientists who captured the image still trying to figure out whether it's a huge planet or a tiny star.

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