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Extrasolar Planets: January 2014


Earth-scale planets in the classical habitable zone (HZ) are more likely to be habitable if they possess active geophysics.

The status of laboratory spectroscopic data for exoplanet characterisation missions such as EChO is reviewed. For many molecules (eg H2O, CO, CO2, H3+, O2, O3) the data are already available.

Astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67.

Volatiles in Protoplanetary Disks

Volatiles are compounds with low sublimation temperatures, and they make up most of the condensible mass in typical planet-forming environments.

We make a preliminary assessment on the habitability of potential rocky exoplanets around Alpha Centauri B.

Astrobiologists supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have found that a peculiar feature in the atmosphere of Earth could also be present on billions of extrasolar planets.

The source HD172555 is a young A7V star surrounded by a debris disk with a gaseous component.

It is now understood that the accretion of terrestrial planets naturally involves giant collisions, the moon-forming impact being a well known example.

Spitzer Probes Weather on Brown Dwarfs

Swirling, stormy clouds may be ever-present on cool celestial orbs called brown dwarfs. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that most brown dwarfs are roiling with one or more planet-size storms akin to Jupiter's "Great Red Spot."

A general formulation to compute habitable zones for binary stars is presented.

Massive terrestrial planets, called "super-Earths," are known to be common in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

During its four-year mission, NASA's Kepler space telescope discovered thousands of "planetary candidates" in our Milky Way galaxy -- the vast majority of which are almost certainly actual planets.

Large terrestrial planets are expected to have muted topography and deep oceans, implying that most super-Earths should be entirely covered in water, so-called waterworlds.

We have found that Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our Sun, will pass close to a pair of faint background stars in the next few years.