This ultrahot Jupiter-like exoplanet has a glowing stratosphere

For the first time, a glowing giant exoplanet has been found surrounded by an atmosphere similar to Earth’s.

The planet WASP-121b, which lies 270 light years away from Earth, is the first exoplanet found with a stratosphere – an upper layer in its atmosphere.

WASP-121b is what is known as a ‘hot Jupiter’ – a gas giant like Jupiter but much hotter, with an orbit that takes it feverishly close to its star.

Read more on WIRED

Tides on exoplanets could drive alien biological clocks

Worlds with a permanent day and night side aren’t obvious places to look in the search for extraterrestrial life. Apart from having extremes of temperature, such planets would make it hard for a biological clock to get going.

But now it seems that if these worlds also have oceans, then tides could drive a biological clock just like a rising and setting sun would, according to a simulation by Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam at Harvard University.

We used to think that not having a day-night cycle would make it harder for life to emerge, because of the lack of a circadian clock. On Earth, these built-in timekeepers play an important role in several biological contexts, including reproduction.

Read more on New Scientist

Nasa has found 10 new planets that could host alien life

Ten potentially habitable worlds have been announced today by Nasa. They are part of a group of 219 exoplanets revealed by the space agency in its eighth Kepler planet catalogue.

The ten planets are Earth-sized and in the habitable zone of their stars. This means they are at just the right distance for liquid water to exist on their surfaces.

Just under half of these are orbiting G dwarf stars – stars the same size as our Sun.

Watery exoplanet suggests we may never find another solar system like ours

A Neptune-like planet 450 light years away has been found to have an atmosphere rich in water, complete with clouds, and the surprising find suggests not all Solar Systems form like ours did.

Researchers at the Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre used transmission spectroscopy to study the planet, also known as HAT-P-26b. With a similar size to Neptune, HAT-P-26B orbits its star 20 times closer than we are to the Sun, and takes just four days to circle it.

Read more on WIRED

This is the one! Super-Earth 40 light years away is our ‘best chance of finding alien life yet’

A newly discovered exoplanet is causing excitement among astronomers as it has the potential to give us the best opportunity ever to find alien life.

The ‘super-Earth’, which is around 1.4 times the size of Earth but seven times its mass, is rocky, temperate and orbits a quiet star in our galactic neighbourhood.

“I am really, really excited about this discovery,” David Charbonneau, study author and professor of astronomy at Harvard University told WIRED. “This is the one we’ve been hunting for all these years!”

Read more on WIRED

Atmosphere found on nearby Earth-like planet hints it could be a ‘water world’

For the first time, astronomers have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet beyond our world.

The Venus-like planet, known as Gliese 1132b or GJ 1132b, lies 39 light years away, which is close in astronomical terms.

When it was first discovered in 2015 Drake Deming, an astronomer at the University of Maryland, said it was “arguably the most important planet ever found outside the solar system”.

Read more on WIRED

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