Articles on Exoplanets

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Landscape in the Var area of France with fossilised Permian pelites (Permian Middle, 270 Ma) and “muddle cracks”.

An exoplanet within arm’s reach: the Earth

The geological and biological archives of the Earth shed light on both the distant past of our planet and allow us to imagine its future.
Searching for planets around nearby stars is like searching for a needle in a field of haystacks. Trevor Dobson/Flikr

How we found a white dwarf – a stellar corpse – by accident

Science is full of surprises. While searching for planets orbiting nearby stars, researchers stumbled across the remains of a star that once outshone the Sun.
Relative sizes of planets that are in a zone potentially compatible with life: Kepler-22b, Kepler-69c, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f and Earth (named left to right; except for Earth, these are artists’ renditions). NASA

Why the idea of alien life now seems inevitable and possibly imminent

The ancient question 'Are we alone?' has graduated from being a philosophical musing to a testable hypothesis. We should be prepared for an answer.
An artist’s impression of Kepler-22b, a planet known to comfortably circle in the habitable zone of a sun-like star. It is the first planet that NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed to orbit in a star’s habitable zone - the region around a star where liquid water, a requirement for life on Earth, could persist. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Curious Kids: why has nobody found any life outside of Earth?

Life could exist in another solar system in a different part our galaxy. Or in another galaxy far away. We don't have the perfect technology yet to study such far away places but we're still trying.
An artist’s impression of the surface of the planet orbiting Barnard’s Star. ESO - M. Kornmesser

A super-Earth found in our stellar back yard

The new planet is believed to be orbiting Barnard's Star, a red dwarf that's not visible to the naked eye but one of the closest stars to our Solar System.
Nobody knows for sure - but it’s possible. Shutterstock

Curious Kids: Are there living things on different galaxies?

There are probably more than a million planets in the universe for every single grain of sand on Earth. That's a lot of planets. My guess is that there probably is life elsewhere in the Universe.
The other galaxies are there, but they are hiding a very long way away. www.shutterstock.com

Curious Kids: Where are all the other galaxies hidden?

We are in the Milky Way. If you travelled on an extremely fast spaceship for more than two million years, you would reach our neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy. All other galaxies are even further away.
Imagined view from Kepler-10b, a planet that orbits one of the 150,000 stars that the Kepler spacecraft is monitoring. NASA/Kepler Mission/Dana Berry

Goodbye Kepler, hello TESS: Passing the baton in the search for distant planets

When NASA first started planning the Kepler mission, no one knew if the universe held any planets outside our solar system. Thousands of exoplanets later, the search enters a new phase as Kepler retires.

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