Extrasolar Planets


Prospects for Detecting Oxygen, Water, and Chlorophyll in an Exo-Earth

Prospects for Detecting Oxygen, Water, and Chlorophyll in an Exo-Earth

The goal of finding and characterizing nearby Earth-like planets is driving many NASA high-contrast flagship mission concepts, the latest of which is known as the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST).


Strong Dependence of the Inner Edge of the Habitable Zone on Planetary Rotation Rate

Strong Dependence of the Inner Edge of the Habitable Zone on Planetary Rotation Rate

Planetary rotation rate is a key parameter in determining atmospheric circulation and hence the spatial pattern of clouds. Since clouds can exert a dominant control on planetary radiation balance, rotation rate could be critical for determining mean planetary climate.


Habitable Zones Around Main-Sequence Stars: Dependence on Planetary Mass

Habitable Zones Around Main-Sequence Stars: Dependence on Planetary Mass

The ongoing discoveries of extrasolar planets are unveiling a wide range of terrestrial mass (size) planets around their host stars.


N-body Simulations of Terrestrial Planet Formation under the Influence of a Hot Jupiter

N-body Simulations of Terrestrial Planet Formation under the Influence of a Hot Jupiter

We investigate the formation of multiple-planet systems in the presence of a hot Jupiter using extended N-body simulations that are performed simultaneously with semi-analytic calculations.


Earth-like Habitats in Planetary Systems

Earth-like Habitats in Planetary Systems

Understanding the concept of habitability is related to an evolutionary knowledge of the particular planet-in-question. Additional indications so-called "systemic aspects" of the planetary system as a whole governs a particular planet's claim on habitability.


Formation, Tidal Evolution and Habitability of the Kepler-186 System

Formation, Tidal Evolution and Habitability of the Kepler-186 System

The Kepler-186 system consists of five planets orbiting an early-M dwarf. The planets have physical radii of 1.0-1.50 R⊕ and orbital periods of 4 to 130 days.


New Rocky Planet May Have Liquid Water

New Rocky Planet May Have Liquid Water

San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane and an international team of researchers have announced the discovery of a new rocky planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface.


Effect of Planetary Illumination on Climate Modelling of Earthlike Exomoons

Effect of Planetary Illumination on Climate Modelling of Earthlike Exomoons

From analytical studies of tidal heating, eclipses and planetary illumination, it is clear that the exomoon habitable zone (EHZ) - the set of moon and host planet orbits that permit liquid water on an Earthlike moon's surface - is a manifold of higher dimension than the planetary HZ.


Fluctuating Orbital Tilt Does Not Preclude Possibility of Life

Fluctuating Orbital Tilt Does Not Preclude Possibility of Life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, sometimes it helps.


Exoplanet Education Guide

Exoplanet Education Guide

The discovery and characterization of exoplanets is one of the most exciting and fast-changing areas in modern astronomical research.


Atmospheric Pressure on Exoplanets

Atmospheric Pressure on Exoplanets

NAI-funded astrobiologists at the University of Washington have developed a new method of gauging the atmospheric pressure of exoplanets, or worlds beyond the solar system, by looking for a certain type of molecule.


Chemical Abundances of Stars With Brown Dwarf Companions

Chemical Abundances of Stars With Brown Dwarf Companions

It is well-known that stars with giant planets are on average more metal-rich than stars without giant planets, whereas stars with detected low-mass planets do not need to be metal-rich.


The Orbit of the Young Exoplanet beta Pictoris b

The Orbit of the Young Exoplanet beta Pictoris b

We present new astrometry for the young (12-21 Myr) exoplanet beta Pictoris b taken with the Gemini/NICI, Magellan/MagAO+Clio2, and Magellan/MagAO+VisAO instruments between 2009 and 2012.


Aerosol Particles and Planetary Cloud Formation

Aerosol Particles and Planetary Cloud Formation

Scientists recently discovered the source of naturally occurring aerosol particles in Earth's atmosphere that play an important role in cloud formation.


Cosmological Aspects of Planetary Habitability

Cosmological Aspects of Planetary Habitability

The habitable zone (HZ) is defined as the region around a star where a planet can support liquid water on its surface, which, together with an oxygen atmosphere, is presumed to be necessary (and sufficient) to develop and sustain life on the planet.


Water Clouds in Y Dwarfs and Exoplanets

Water Clouds in Y Dwarfs and Exoplanets

The formation of clouds affects brown dwarf and planetary atmospheres of nearly all effective temperatures.


The Gemini Planet Imager: First Light

The Gemini Planet Imager: First Light

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets.


Setting the Stage for Habitable Planets

Setting the Stage for Habitable Planets

Our understanding of the processes that are relevant to the formation and maintenance of habitable planetary systems is advancing at a rapid pace, both from observation and theory.


Super-Habitable Worlds

Super-Habitable Worlds

Earth is the only known example of an inhabited planet in the universe, so the search for alien life has focused on Earth-like worlds.


Volatile Planetary Evolution and the Possibility of Life

Volatile Planetary Evolution and the Possibility of Life Video in Story

In another step forward in the search for habitable planets, a team of researchers based out of the US and Chile announced that they have located a large swarm of comets and gas moving in a cloud around a nearby star.



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