NASA-funded astronomers have, for the first time, spotted planets orbiting sun-like stars in a crowded cluster of stars. The findings offer the best evidence yet that planets can sprout up in dense stellar environments. Although the newfound planets are not habitable, their skies would be starrier than what we see from Earth.
Astroboffins have spotted a galaxy cluster that's breaking all the cosmic rules, including coming back to life to spawn stars at an enormous rate. The Phoenix cluster is spewing out the celestial bodies at the highest rate ever observed for the middle of a galaxy cluster; it's the most powerful producer of X-rays of any known cluster; it's one of the most massive of its kind; and the rate of hot gas cooling in the central regions is the largest ever observed.
This is an artistic illustration of the gas giant planet HD 209458b in the constellation Pegasus. To the surprise of astronomers, they have found much less water vapor in the hot world’s atmosphere than standard planet-formation models predict. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI) and N. Madhusudhan (UC)
Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth
This artist's concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of star that is similar to our sun. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle
In this artist's impression, a disk of dusty material leftover from star formation girds two young stars like a hula hoop. As the two stars whirl around each other, they periodically peek out from the disk, making the system appear to "blink" every 93 days. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Central area of the Milky Way galaxy, released by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The photo shows 84 million stars in an image measuring 108,500×81,500, which contains nearly 9 billion pixels, and is actually a composite of thousands of individual photographs shot with the observatory's VISTA survey telescope.
This artist's concept shows what astronomers believe is an alien world just two-thirds the size of Earth -- one of the smallest on record. It was identified by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The exoplanet candidate, known as UCF-1.01, orbits a star called GJ 436, which is located a mere 33 light-years away. UCF-1.01 might be the nearest world to our solar system that is smaller than our home planet. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech