Superflares may be less harmful to exoplanets than previously thought, study shows

Astronomers have long suspected that superflares, extreme radiation bursts from stars, can cause lasting damage to the atmospheres — and thus habitability — of exoplanets. A new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society reports that they pose only a limited danger to planetary systems.

Giant lasers compress iron oxide, revealing the secret interior structure of rocky exoplanets

Advances in astronomical observations have resulted in the discovery of an extraordinary number of extrasolar planets, some of which are believed to have a rocky composition similar to Earth. Learning more about their interior structure could provide important clues about their potential habitability. Led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a team of researchers aims to unlock some of these secrets by understanding the properties of iron oxide – one of the constituents of Earth’s mantle – at the extreme pressures and temperatures that are likely found in the interiors of these large rocky extrasolar planets.

American Institute of Physics Announces 2020 Science Communication Award Winners

The American Institute of Physics recognizes the winners of the 2020 Science Communication Awards for their topical works on reshaping our world, recognizing forgotten women in science, searching for knowledge, and hunting down black holes. The 2020 winners are Susan Hockfield, Joshua Sokol, Curtis Manley, and Catalyst.

Paired with super telescopes, model Earths guide hunt for life

– Cornell University astronomers have created five models representing key points from our planet’s evolution, like chemical snapshots through Earth’s own geologic epochs. The models will be spectral templates for astronomers to use in the approaching new era of powerful telescopes, and in the hunt for Earth-like planets in distant solar systems.

NEID Exoplanet Instrument Sees First Light

The new NEID instrument, now installed at the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Southern Arizona, USA, has made its first observations. The NSF-NASA funded instrument is designed to measure the motion of nearby stars with extreme precision — roughly three times better than current state-of-the-art instruments — allowing us to detect, determine the mass of, and characterize exoplanets as small as Earth.