The atmospheres of exoplanets share some common properties, but also hold a few mysteries.
We’ve observed the toxic atmosphere of a super-Earth 40 light years away.
When astronomers are asked “Why is Pluto no longer a planet?” the bigger question strikes at the heart of what a universal definition for a planet would be.
Not all planets have a blue sky. Mars, for example, with its much thinner atmosphere has more of a brown sky. Rayleigh scattering is a subtle effect, so it’s been difficult to observe beyond our solar system. But recently a team has observed Rayleigh scattering in the atmosphere of a planet about 100 light years away.
We can determine a planet’s size and orbit from this method, but other properties such as its surface temperature or atmosphere can only be inferred. That may change with a newly discovered planet known as GJ 1132b.
Pluto looks like it has all the makings of a planet, and yet astronomers still see fit to place it outside the realm of planets.
One of the biggest challenges in the search for exoplanets is distinguishing real evidence of a planet from random fluctuations that give a false positive.
There are astronomical methods that could allows us to see Earth-like worlds, and one of them is known as project Starshade.
The transit method is a great way to discover planets, but it has some serious limitations.