Astronomers Find an Earth-Sized World with a Venus-sized Atmosphere

Using ground-based telescopes, an international team of astronomers has identified an atmosphere around the exoplanet GJ 1132b. Orbiting a red dwarf star a mere 39 light-years away this world is only about half again as large and massive as Earth, making it the smallest exoplanet to be discovered thus far with an atmosphere. Unfortunately that likely means that…

Astronomers Identify an Exoplanet in the Process of Formation

Here at Lights In The Dark I typically keep the articles and information to exploration occurring within our Solar System. But there have been amazing advances in the discovery of worlds far beyond our own family of planets and this recent news is quite fascinating: astronomers have spotted what appears to be a large gaseous…

Earth-Sized Alien Planet Found Around the Stars Next Door

These days it seems exoplanets are being discovered nearly every week, with “super-Earths”, “hot Jupiters” and “cold Neptunes” being identified (or at least announced as solid candidates) within star systems all around our neck of the galaxy. To top it all off, today the European Southern Observatory announced that an Earth-mass world has now been…

Kepler Finds a Real-Life Tatooine

Can’t see the video below? Click here. Kepler, NASA’s exoplanet hunter extraordinaire, has confirmed the existence of the first planet orbiting two suns, not unlike Luke’s homeworld Tatooine from the Star Wars films! Unlike Tatooine, however, the planet –named Kepler-16b – is a cold Saturn-sized gas giant unlikely to harbor life. Still, it showcases the…

From the LITD Archives – VLT: A Space Opera

Can’t see the movie below? Watch on YouTube here. Here’s an enchanting video by the European Southern Observatory highlighting the discoveries of their Very Large Telescope (VLT) array, high in the mountains of the Atacama Desert in Chile. The Atacama is the driest place on Earth, far from the light pollution of major cities, and thus…

Kepler’s Discovery: New Worlds for the Finding

Can’t see the video below? Click here. Today NASA held a press conference at 1pm EST to present the discovery of over 1,200 exoplanet candidates by the Kepler telescope, an orbiting space observatory that’s been watching a section of the sky near the constellation Cygnus for the past year and a half. (The spacecraft launched…

Carnival of Space 172

    Wow. It’s been quite an exciting week in astronomy, with the passing of NASA’s much-needed budget proposal, the preparation of the shuttle Discovery for its final flight, China’s successful launch of its second lunar mission just this past Friday… and, of course, the monumental announcement of the discovery of a potentially Earthlike planet…

This Week in Space

Season 1, episode 23: SpaceX issues a financial challenge to the big space contractors, last shuttle launches slip, video diary from Mars 500 crew, IKAROS’ successful solar sail, kids discover Martian cave, John Glenn joins the save shuttle fray, Cassini takes a dip in Titan’s atmosphere, new Hubble images show star formation, extreme exoplanet weather,…

VLT: A Space Opera

Here’s an enchanting video by the European Southern Observatory highlighting the discoveries of their Very Large Telescope (VLT) array, high in the mountains of the Atacama Desert in Chile. The Atacama is the driest place on Earth, far from the light pollution of major cities, and thus provides the clearest, darkest skies allowing these massive…