How we detected water on a potentially habitable exoplanet for the first time

Angelos Tsiaras, UCL With more than 4,000 exoplanets – planets orbiting stars other than our sun – discovered so far, it may seem like we are on the cusp of finding out whether we are alone in the universe. Sadly though, we don’t know much about these planets – in most cases just their mass […]

The end of the world: a history of how a silent cosmos led humans to fear the worst

Thomas Moynihan, University of Oxford It is 1950 and a group of scientists are walking to lunch against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. They are about to have a conversation that will become a scientific legend. The scientists are at the Los Alamos Ranch School, the site for the Manhattan Project, where each […]

Saturn on steroids: J1407b

If you read Isaac Asimov’s 1986 novel “Foundation and Earth”, you’ll remember how the main characters of the book (Councilman Golan Trevize, historian Janov Pelorat, and Gaian Bliss) were amazed by Saturn’s rings. They were thinking the gas giant with preeminent rings in old stories was just a myth. But after seeing Saturn, they made […]

In space, there really might be no place like home

Few topics in science command as much attention as the discovery of extrasolar planets – those as-yet-unseen worlds, light years beyond our own Sun. In the quest to learn whether we are alone in the cosmos, astronomers are teasing out subtle wobbles and periodic dimmings of distant stars: telltale signs that a planet, much too […]

Terrascope: Turning Earth into a giant telescope

We can turn Earth into a giant telescope. According to a recent study titled “The ‘Terrascope’: On the Possibility of Using the Earth as an Atmospheric Lens”, published by David Kipping of Columbia University, our planet offers an opportunity for pronounced lensing.

NASA has published the amazing map of 4,000 exoplanets

Even as late as 1991, we had no hard evidence of planets existing outside our solar system (a centuries-old quest), known as “exoplanets”. Today, over 4000 exoplanets are known to exist. NASA has published an amazing video-map showing them in the Milky Way galaxy on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website.

How Earth Could Die – 9 Horrible Ways

Now we’re living on a warm, hospitable planet. As Carl Sagan has said “That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” We, humans, are the unquestionable rulers of our little oasis in a hostile universe. But […]