Exoplanetary Science

Kepler-80: Analysis of a Compact System

July 22, 2016

It’s been a week for unusual planetary systems, and I’ll cap it off with Kepler-80, a star about 1100 light years away that features five planets in extraordinarily tight orbits. Such systems are now being referred to as STIPs (Systems with Tightly-spaced Planets), a nod to our apparently imperishable drive to create acronyms. Whatever we […]

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‘Warm Jupiters’ and Nearby Worlds

July 21, 2016

Where exactly do ‘hot Jupiters’ come from? I usually see explanations involving planetary migration for Jupiter-class objects with tight orbital periods of 10 days or less, the thinking being that such planets are too close to their host stars to have accumulated a Jovian-style gaseous envelope there. Migration explains their placement, with gas giants forming […]

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A Deeper Look at TRAPPIST-1

July 20, 2016

Small red stars are drawing increased attention as we continue to discover interesting planets around them. The past two days we’ve looked at the four worlds around K2-72, a red dwarf about 225 light years out in the constellation Aquarius. That two of these worlds have at least the potential for liquid water on the […]

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Ravi Kopparapu: Looking at K2-72

July 19, 2016

Is the K2-72 system, discussed yesterday as part of a recent exoplanet announcement from Ian Crossfield and colleagues, as intriguing as it looks? Ravi Kopparapu has some thoughts on the matter. Dr. Kopparapu’s work on exoplanet habitability is well known to Centauri Dreams readers — he offered an overview in these pages called How Common […]

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Intriguing System in New Exoplanet Haul

July 18, 2016

Today’s announcement of the confirmation of over 100 planets using K2 data reminds me of how much has gone into making K2 a success. You’ll recall that K2 emerged when the Kepler spacecraft lost function in two of its four reaction wheels. Three of these were needed for pointing accuracy, but ingenious pointing techniques and […]

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Viewing a Protoplanetary Snowline

July 13, 2016

A team led by Lucas Cieza (Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile) has produced the first image directly showing the water snowline in a protoplanetary disk, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). It’s fascinating to actually see a mechanism we’ve long discussed in these pages when analyzing exoplanetary systems (or for that matter, our own). […]

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WISE 0855: Probing a Brown Dwarf’s Atmosphere

July 11, 2016

A brown dwarf as a ‘quieter’ version of Jupiter? That’s more or less the picture offered in a new paper on WISE 0855 from Andrew Skemer (UC-Santa Cruz) and colleagues. Here we’re working in the Solar System’s close neighborhood — WISE 0855 is a scant 7.2 light years from Earth — and we’re observing an […]

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Directly Imaged Planet in a Triple Star System

July 8, 2016

Into the annals of oddball orbits now comes HD 131399Ab, a planet whose wide orbit inside a triple-star system is unlike anything we’ve yet seen. 320 light years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus, this is a gas giant of about four Jupiter masses that was discovered through direct imaging. The discovery was made with […]

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Young Exoplanet Highlights Migration Theories

June 21, 2016

If our Solar System had a ‘hot Jupiter’ that migrated inward after Mars, Earth and Venus had formed, would any of the terrestrial planets have survived? It’s a question worth pondering given how many hot Jupiters we’ve turned up, raising the question of how these planets form in the first place. One possibility is formation […]

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FU Orionis: Implications of Sudden Brightening for Planet Formation

June 17, 2016

I would like to thank the many Centauri Dreams readers who contributed to the successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a year’s worth of study of KIC 8462852. As I write, there is less than an hour to go, but we have already gone well over the needed $100,000 mark. Congratulations to Tabitha Boyajian, and thanks […]

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