Exoplanets

Some exoplanets seem to have walked directly out of the best science fiction movies. Worlds made of diamond? Volcano covered surfaces? Mysterious magnetic storms? 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 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 as astronomers come up with new and creative methods for studying these alien worlds. We’ll probe the mysteries of the TRAPPIST-1 system, report on the furthest known planets, and share more about their atmospheres, likelihood of habitability, and other properties as they are determined. The hunt for Earth 2.0 is on as we attempt to answer the age-old question: “are we alone?”

Fomalhaut b

Name the Exoworlds

Here's your chance to name an exoplanet, in a process recognized and officiated by the International Astronomical Union. Register your astronomy club or organization by June 1st!

Do Atmospheres Spin Worlds to Habitability?

The best place to look for nearby Earth-size planets are around the smallest, coolest stars. New research shows that any exoplanets tightly circling their stars might have a better chance of being habitable than previously thought.

Three Exoplanet Molds: Metals Matter

Data from NASA's Kepler space telescope point to three distinct molds of exoplanets — rocky worlds, gas dwarfs, and ice/gas giants — distinguishable based on the abundances of heavy elements in their host star’s atmosphere.

Planets’ Wacky Orbits Solved

By combining nearly 1,500 observations with sophisticated computer models, astronomers have shed light on a nearby planetary system, proving that the planets' bizarre orbits will actually remain stable for the next 100 million years.

Most “Earth-Like” Planet Found Yet

The newly discovered planet, Kepler-186f, is the first Earth-size exoplanet circling in its star’s habitable zone. The media worldwide is gleaming with fantastical headlines, but readers in the know may have an inkling the result is less than it seems.

Planets Form With Magnetic Storms

Astronomers might have solved an outstanding mystery of why forming planetary systems emit more infrared light than expected. The key lies with gas and dust suspended in giant magnetic loops.