Gemini North Detects Multiple Rock-Forming Elements in the Atmosphere of a Scorching Exoplanet

Astronomers using the Gemini North telescope, one half of the International Gemini Observatory operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, have detected multiple rock-forming elements in the atmosphere of a Jupiter-sized exoplanet, WASP-76b. The planet is so perilously close to its host star that rock-forming elements — such as magnesium, calcium, and nickel — become vaporized and dispersed throughout its scorching atmosphere. This intriguing chemical profile provides new insights into the formation of planetary systems, including our own.

Gemini Norte detecta múltiples elementos que forman rocas en la atmósfera de un exoplaneta sumido en el infierno

Utilizando el telescopio de Gemini Norte, la mitad boreal del Observatorio Internacional Gemini, que opera NOIRLab de NSF y AURA, un equipo de astrónomos detectó diversos elementos formadores de rocas en la atmósfera de un exoplaneta del tamaño de Júpiter llamado WASP-76b. El planeta está tan peligrosamente cerca de su estrella que los elementos formadores de rocas, como el magnesio, calcio y níquel, se evaporan y se dispersan por toda su abrasadora atmósfera. Este intrigante perfil químico provee nuevos conocimientos sobre la formación de sistemas planetarios, incluido el nuestro.

‘Terminator zones’ on distant planets could harbor life, UC Irvine astronomers say

In a new study, University of California, Irvine astronomers describe how extraterrestrial life has the potential to exist on distant exoplanets inside a special area called the “terminator zone,” which is a ring on planets that have one side that always faces its star and one side that is always dark.

Starshade Competition Challenges Students to Block Starlight for Observing Exoplanets

The Hybrid Observatory for Earth-like Exoplanets proposes pairing the newest and largest ground-based telescopes with a starshade orbiting Earth to obstruct the light from a host star to identify and characterize an exoplanet. AIP, with NASA and SPS, is organizing a competition for undergraduate students in the physical sciences to design such a starshade.

NASA’s Webb Reveals Steamy Atmosphere of Distant Planet in Exquisite Detail

In a dream come true for exoplaneteers, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has demonstrated its unprecedented ability to analyze the atmosphere of a planet more than 1,000 light-years away. Webb has – in a single observation – revealed the unambiguous signature of water, indications of haze, and evidence for clouds that were thought not to exist based on prior observations.

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.