Exoplanet

Where it rains rocks into magma oceans Space

Where it rains rocks into magma oceans

Not all rocky worlds resemble the Earth or Mars. If a rocky planet has the bad luck to circle too closely around its star, it becomes an extreme world. Such as the planet K2-141b, which is about 200 light years away from Earth, takes just under 7 hours to orbit around its star K2-141 and orbits only about 1 million kilometers away from it (Earth-Sun: 150 million kilometers). In a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, scientists from McGill University, York University and the Indian Institute of Science Education have analyzed what the weather…
Hotter than a star Space

Hotter than a star

WASP-189 b is a rather unusual planet. The gas giant was already discovered two years ago. Now researchers have discovered new details about it with the help of the CHEOPS satellite. Thus WASP-189b orbits its star 20 times closer than the earth the sun. For a complete orbit it needs only 2.7 days. Its home star is larger and over 2,000 degrees hotter than the Sun, which is why it appears to glow blue. "We only know of a handful of planets that orbit around such hot stars. In addition, this system is by far the brightest we know…
Who’s watching us? Life

Who’s watching us?

Earthly astronomers are busy scanning distant star systems for planets. There is one limitation: With the popular transit method, we can only detect planets if they move in front of their star from our point of view and change its brightness. Of course, this limits the selection quite a bit, it is a big coincidence if the orbital plane of an exoplanet is roughly parallel to our viewing direction to the star. Now you can also ask different questions. Let's assume that aliens were looking for other planets that harbor life, just like us. Where would they have to…
Astronomers are searching for the super planet Life

Astronomers are searching for the super planet

Again and again, astronomers proudly present exoplanets that would be suitable for life as we know it - i.e. made of solid rock and illuminated by their stars in such a way that water exists on their surface in a liquid state. But is our home planet really ideal for the development of life? After all, when the sun was still young and shone with a third less power, it was still quite cold here until CO2 finally created a greenhouse effect. A study under the direction of the scientist Dirk Schulze Makuch of the Washington State University and…
This star system will never be the Solar System Astrophysics

This star system will never be the Solar System

TYC 8998-760-1 might someday become something like our Sun. Right now, however, the young star is still a few billion years away from that. It’s been around for only about 17 million years. If it were the Sun, there would still be a long time before it would even be able to watch the dinosaurs. Nevertheless, the whippersnapper is still something special: astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) photographed it and found two planets in its orbit. “Even though astronomers have indirectly detected thousands of planets in our galaxy, only a tiny fraction of…
How a planet grows up Space

How a planet grows up

AB Aurigae, 520 light-years from Earth in the constellation, Auriga (the charioteer), is far from grown up: the star is a so-called Herbig Ae/Be star, which has not yet started to fuse hydrogen in its core. Despite its youthful age of only a few million years, however, it already appears to be concerned with trying to produce offspring. And so, as humans are wont to do, they don’t look away considerately, but instead direct their eyes (and their telescopes) right at the action, full of curiosity. In doing so, the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (VLT)…
Life in a hydrogen-rich atmosphere Astrophysics

Life in a hydrogen-rich atmosphere

The exoplanet K2-18b, about 124 light-years from Earth, is a kind of mini-Neptune, as astronomers discovered this past year. It is seven to ten times heavier than Earth and its radius is 2.7 times larger. K2-18b orbits its host star, a red dwarf, once every 33 days. Thus, it is located in its star’s habitable zone. For astronomers, however, it has one other special noteworthy feature: hydrogen, helium, and water vapor have been detected in its atmosphere. In the media, K2-18b has even been described as “Earth 2.0,” which it very definitively is not. The researchers who studied it…
Blown to dust: the first exoplanet visible in a telescope is no more Astrophysics

Blown to dust: the first exoplanet visible in a telescope is no more

In 2008, researchers looking at images from the Hubble Space Telescope found a bright spot moving around the star Fomalhaut located 25 light-years from Earth. At 400 million years old, Fomalhaut is still relatively young. The star, twice as heavy as the Sun and 17 times brighter, is also circled by a dust disk that the researchers identified as a remnant from planetary formation. Fomalhaut b was thus the first exoplanet detected through direct, optical imaging, not just indirectly through star crossings or wobbling patterns of movements by its star. In 2015, the approximately Jupiter-sized planet was even given…