JWST’s MIRI Issues, Newborn Quasar, Finding Exoplanets

James Webb is currently experiencing problems with its MIRI instrument. The problem is due to increased friction in one of MIRI’s mechanisms in the Medium-Resolution Spectroscopy (MRS) mode. The observatory is otherwise healthy, but the team decided to stop observations using MRS mode until they find a solution. A quick TLDR version of the most … Read more

JWST Finds a Clear, Unambiguous Signal for Carbon Dioxide in an Exoplanet’s Atmosphere

An early – and exciting — science result from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was announced today: the first unambiguous detection of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. This is the first detailed evidence for carbon dioxide ever detected in a planet outside our Solar System. An artist’s impression showing what the … Read more

Rare Neptune-size exoplanets may face solar superstorms from stars

The discovery of a Neptune-sized exoplanet in orbit around a hot and bright giant star may help explain why the discovery of such worlds is rare. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered a Neptune-sized planet orbiting a massive, bright star. The gas giant planet, named HD 56414 b , is being stripped … Read more

JWST will seek clouds of vaporized gems on exoplanets

Astronomers will be hoping for cloudy skies as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST or Webb) turns its attention to exoplanetary atmospheres laden with vaporized rock and crystals such as corundum and perovskite, which form gems on Earth. Hot Jupiters, which are gas giants that orbit extremely close to their stars, grow so hot that … Read more

NASA Wants Your Help Designing a Starshade to Observe Exoplanets

The field of exoplanet study has come a long way in recent decades. To date, 5,063 exoplanets have been confirmed in 3,794 systems beyond our own, with another 8,819 candidates awaiting confirmation. In the coming years, tens of thousands of more planets are expected to be found, thanks to next-generation observatories. The ultimate goal in … Read more

Astronomers Have a New Way to Find Exoplanets in Cataclysmic Binary Systems

Have you heard of LU Camelopardalis, QZ Serpentis, V1007 Herculis and BK Lyncis? No, they’re not members of a boy band in ancient Rome. They’re Cataclysmic Variables, binary stars that are so close together one star draws material from its sibling. This causes the pair to vary wildly in brightness. Can planets exist in this … Read more

As Webb begins observing exoplanets, scientists use Spitzer data & brown dwarfs to reveal how silicate clouds form

In a new study from a group of researchers in Canada, data from NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope was used to determine the conditions under which silicate clouds form on distant exoplanets outside of our solar system — giving scientists insight into what’s inside the atmospheres of exoplanets similar in size, temperature, and composition to … Read more

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens Would Let Us See Exoplanets With Incredible Resolution

Have you ever seen wispy arcs and rings in astronomical images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories? These unusual features are caused by a quirk of nature called gravitational lensing, which occurs when light from a distant object is distorted by a closer massive object along the same line of sight. This … Read more

AI reveals unsuspected math underlying search for exoplanets

This artist’s concept depicts a planetary system. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms trained on real astronomical observations now outperform astronomers in sifting through massive amounts of data to find new exploding stars, identify new types of galaxies and detect the mergers of massive stars, accelerating the rate of new discovery in the world’s oldest … Read more

The Closeby Habitable Exoplanet Survey (CHES) Could Detect Exoplanets Within a few Dozen Light-Years of Earth Using Astrometry

As of this article’s writing, NASA has indicated that 5,030 extrasolar planets have been confirmed in 3,772 systems, with another 8,974 candidates awaiting confirmation. With next-generation instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) coming online, the number and diversity of confirmed exoplanets are expected to grow exponentially. In particular, astronomers anticipate that the number … Read more