Exoplanets

Some exoplanets seem to have walked directly out of the best science fiction movies. We’ve discovered single exoplanets orbiting two stars and as many as seven exoplanets orbiting a single star. We’ve probed the planet-forming disks that spawn these alien worlds, and we’re even starting to map the weather weather on these distant planets.

Here Sky & Telescope offers the latest exoplanet news, from super-Earths to hot Jupiters. We’ll continue monitoring results from the Kepler mission, the Hubble Space Telescope, and more to come as astronomers come up with new and creative methods for studying these alien worlds. The hunt for Earth 2.0 is on as we attempt to answer the age-old question: “are we alone?”

brown dwarf

Red Sky for Brown Dwarf

Astronomers have discovered a new “failed star” with unusually red, dusty skies. The dust makes the object look much younger than it actually is, complicating studies of this type of brown dwarf.

Cloudy Super-Earth

Weather on Alien Worlds

From high-altitude clouds discovered on a super-Earth to massive, hurricane-force storms on a nearby brown dwarf, a bevy of results show that the age of “astrometeorology” is upon us.

Transiting exoplanet

Putting Exoplanets on the Scale

Astronomers have come up with a new technique for measuring an alien planet’s mass, and therefore its composition and potential habitability, even when standard methods don’t work.

ArtistKepler_70by70

Kepler Mission Hits 3,500 Candidates

The Kepler team has released its analysis of the mission’s first three years of observations. The haul includes 10 Earth-size (and probably rocky) exoplanets in their stars’ habitable zones, and the stats show such planets are common.

Multiplanet system

A Bite-Size Planetary System

Planet Hunters citizen-science program identifies 14 exoplanet candidates the Kepler mission missed, including a seventh planet in a known system, making it the first seven-planet system discovered.

An artist's rendering of the hot Jupiter HAT-P-7b.

How to Toast a Planet

A new study suggests that close-in gas giants may heat up electrically like toaster coils plugged in to their host stars via the power lines of the stellar wind — explaning why the planets inflate.

dust trap in Ophiucus

Trapping Alien Dust

New observations with the powerful ALMA observatory reveal a huge pile-up of dust around a young star. The result could help astronomers solve a long-standing mystery in planet formation.