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exoplanets

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    Forget “Earth-Like”—We’ll First Find Aliens on Eyeball Planets

    Artist’s conception of a hot Eyeball planet. The permanent day side is sun-baked and dry. The permanent night side is covered with ice. In between lies a thin habitat: the ring of life.Illustration by Beau.TheConsortium Imagine a habitable planet orbiting a distant star. You’re probably picturing a variation of Earth. Maybe it’s a little cloudier, […]

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    What Do Romantic Aliens See at the End of Their Alien Days?

    When it comes to exoplanets, reality is catching up with science fiction. Take Kepler-16b, a Saturn-size planet roughly 200 light-years from Earth that circles not just one star but a pair of stars. Nicknamed Tatooine, after the fictional home planet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker, this world must see sunsets that are twice as breathtaking. […]

  • Jupiter Great Red Spot

    Give Thanks to Jupiter, our Little Planet’s Big Protector

    Jupiter is famous for its Great Red Spot, but the stormy planet may also be responsible for keeping the inner solar system calm.NASA/JPL You are special, just like your parents used to tell you. You are a rare flower, a unique snowflake. Just like everyone else. How about our solar system? Is it special? Earth […]

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    Forget “Earth-Like”—We’ll First Find Aliens on Eyeball Planets

    Imagine a habitable planet orbiting a distant star. You’re probably picturing a variation of Earth. Maybe it’s a little cloudier, or covered in oceans. Maybe the mountains are a little higher. Maybe the trees are red instead of green. Maybe there are scantily clad natives … OK, let’s stop there. That image may very well […]

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    What Earth Tells Us About Life, Intelligence & the Universe

      Astrobiology, the study of life on other worlds,  is one of the coolest sciences ever.  From extremophile bacteria living miles underground and feeding off radioactivity to exoplanetary systems with bizarre head-spinning architectures, astrobiology includes some of the most amazing parts of the natural world.  But for some hardened naysayers, Astrobiology’s glamour is tainted by that […]

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    Where Could You Find the Best Surfing in the Universe?

    As recently as the late 80s, finding a planet orbiting another star seemed like the stuff of sci-fi fantasy, about as realistic as a diminutive alien riding a flying bicycle, or a sports car that worked as a time machine. Thanks to many smart astronomers using a new generation of powerful telescopes, we now know […]

  • HD 8049 white dwarf

    When a Planet Is Not Really a Planet at All

    As astronomers point their telescopes up at the sky to learn about the cosmos, they tend to push those devices’ abilities to their limits. The edge of what we can measure is, of course, where all the interesting things are happening. The downside of this ambition is that the conclusions drawn from the newest data […]

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    Ingenious: Lisa Kaltenegger

    Stories about a life spent searching for life among the stars.

  • Jamesburg Earth Station

    The Best Way Yet to Talk to Aliens (If They’re Out There)

    “None knows whence creation arose; And whether he has or has not made it; He who surveys it from the lofty skies. Only he knows—or perhaps not.” This is an edited snippet from a 3,500-year-old Vedic creation myth. I sent each of its 143 characters streaming on a beam of radio waves on June 21, […]

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    Hero Planet, or Plebian?

    Far from being romantic heroes, starless planets may be a dime a dozen.