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Exoplanets

7 Earth-Size Worlds, Some Possibly Habitable, Discovered in Nearby Star System; We All Have the Same Reaction

NASA held a press event today to announce an exciting exoplanet discovery: seven roughly Earth-sized planets have been found orbiting a nearby star, with a few of them in the sweet spot for liquid water, and therefore life as we know it. So, the collective reaction of everyone across the Internet was basically, "Great! When can we sign up for the trip?"

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NASA Is Broadcasting a Live Announcement of News of a “Discovery Beyond Our Solar System” Tomorrow!

As time has gone by and new techniques for spotting planets beyond the boundaries of our solar system have advanced, the amount of such "exoplanets" that we've found has risen at a staggering pace—to the point that we've gotten kind of desensitized to it. That's what makes this new announcement from NASA so exciting; they've made an exoplanet discovery worth its own press event.

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Kepler Space Telescope Back to Hunting for Planets After Emergency Mode Troubles

Trusty reboot works every time.

NASA's Kepler space telescope has had a rough time of it, what with losing control of two of its control wheels and precariously balancing on nothing but sunlight to keep itself pointed in the right direction to hunt for exoplanets, but that was thrown into jeopardy about two weeks back when the craft was discovered in emergency mode. Contact was later reestablished, and now it's finally on to find even more alien worlds.

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NASA’s Kepler Mission Recovering From Unexpected Spacecraft Emergency

NASA's Kepler space observatory has already hung on for longer than seemed possible with its sci-fi movie-style workaround for its K2 mission, but all of that seemed lost last week when the spacecraft was discovered in emergency mode. At 75 million miles from home, figuring out what went wrong and saving it was tense business, but things are now looking up.

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Astronomers May Have Found the Closest Life-Supporting Planet

I can see Wolf 1061c from my house!

Technically, we've found other planets closer to Earth than this, but none of them have been deemed as habitable. Right now, Wolf 1061c measures at a distance of 14 light-years away. It would take 14 years for us to reach this potential planet--but we'd also have to invent lightspeed travel first. So it's still kind of a long ways off.

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Dragon Ball Fans Want to Change Planet’s Name From Kepler-22b to Namek

Lou Earley decided to launch a petition on Change.org asking the International Astronomical Union to change Kepler-22b to Namek, the home of Dragon Ball character Piccolo that was destroyed during the Frieza saga.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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NASA’s Kepler Mission Finds Three New Planets in the Habitable Zone

Thanks to NASA's Kepler mission, we now know about three new super-Earth-sized planets that fall in the "Goldilocks" zone of a star's orbit,where the surface temperature of a planet could hold liquid water. The planets are spread over two different systems, Kepler-62 and Kepler-69, which each have multiple planets, but the ones you should be excited about are Kepler-62e, 62f, and 69c.

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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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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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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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If You’d Like to Name an Exoplanet, Now’s Your Chance

We're living in a time when geeks are milling about the foreground of society, unchaperoned -- where we get to exert our fanaticism in various directions. For example, it used to be that newly discovered astronomical bodies were given dry or alphanumeric names, but not anymore! Recently, non-scientist dorks are allowed -- if unofficially -- to name far-flung celestial objects. Just ask Pluto. Today, Uwingu is sending out a call out to name the most recently discovered exoplanet, and you can pay to enter the contest.

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Small World: NASA Kepler Mission Finds Smallest Exoplanet Yet

What can we say, folks -- some days, all the cool news comes from space, and this is one of those days. On a day that has already brought us revelations about nearby stars and details of the latest mission to Mars, NASA's Kepler mission to seek out habitable exoplanets announced that it has turned up it's smallest find yet -- Kepler-37b, a teeny, tiny exoplanet about 210 light years away that is just a little bit larger than our own Moon.

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New Definition Boots Earth Out Of ‘Goldilocks Zone’ for Habitable Planets

As researchers sift through reams of data looking for the telltale signs of planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy, special attention is paid to planets in the so-called 'Goldilocks Zone' that could conceivably support life. In the interest of improving and honing the search for Earth-like planets, a team of astronomers led by Penn State University has proposed some changes to the 'Goldilocks Zone' that they think paint a better picture of where life-sustaining planets would orbit in relation to their stars. There's just one problem -- that new definition kicks the Earth's orbit nearly out of the new 'Goldilocks Zone,' meaning that we are all going to have to move to a planet that could support life, as this one clearly can't. Get packing, everyone.

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