Exocomets may be as common as exoplanets
Berkeley CA (SPX) Jan 09, 2013 – Comets trailing wispy tails across the night sky are a beautiful byproduct of our solar system’s formation, icy leftovers from 4.6 billion years ago when the planets coalesced from rocky rubble. The discovery by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Clarion University in Pennsylvania of six likely comets around distant stars suggests that comets – dubbed “exocomets” – … more

returntospaceopenAt Least One in Six Stars Has an Earth-sized Planet
Long Beach CA (SPX) Jan 09, 2013 – The quest for a twin Earth is heating up. Using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, astronomers are beginning to find Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars. A new analysis of Kepler data shows that about 17 percent of stars have an Earth-sized planet in an orbit closer than Mercury. Since the Milky Way has about 100 billion stars, there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized worlds out there. Fran … more

Massive outburst in neighbor galaxy surprises astronomers
Arecibo PR (SPX) Jan 09, 2013 – The surprising discovery of a massive outburst in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers a tantalizing look at what likely is a powerful belch by a gorging black hole at the galaxy’s center. The scientists were conducting a long-term study of molecules in galaxies, when one of the galaxies showed a dramatic change. “The discovery was entirely serendipitous. Our observations were spread … more

Within ‘Habitable Zone,’ More Planets than We Knew
New Haven, CT (SPX) Jan 09, 2013 – The number of known places in our galaxy theoretically hospitable to life may be significantly greater than previously thought, according to new research. Researchers with Planet Hunters are reporting the discovery of a Jupiter-sized planet in the so-called “habitable zone” of a star similar to Earth’s sun, as well as the identification of 15 new candidate planets also orbiting within their star …more

15 New Planets Hint At “Traffic Jam” Of Moons In Habitable Zone
Oxford UK (SPX) Jan 09, 2013 – Volunteers from the Planethunters.org website, part of the Oxford University-led Zooniverse project, have discovered 15 new planet candidates orbiting in the habitable zones of other stars. Added to the 19 similar planets already discovered in habitable zones, where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water, the new finds suggest that there may be a “traffic jam” of … more

Frozen hydrocarbon ice on Titan’s oceans?
Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) Jan 8, 2013 – Blocks of hydrocarbon ice might be floating on the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturn’s moon Titan, U.S. researchers say. The presence of ice floes could explain some of the mixed readings the Cassini spacecraft has seen in the reflectivity of the surfaces of lakes on Titan, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Tuesday. Ti … more

Arianespace says 2012 sales leapt by 30%
Paris (AFP) Jan 08, 2013 – The European space launch company Arianespace said Tuesday that 2012 sales rose 30 percent and forecast that it would dominate Russian and US rivals this year with a market share of more than 60 percent. Arianespace sales soared to more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion), and the company said that it already covered 60 percent of the global market last year, bringing its order book to 4.0 … more

’17 billion’ Earth-sized planets in Milky Way: study
Washington (AFP) Jan 7, 2013 – The Milky Way contains at least 17 billion planets the size of Earth, and likely many more, according to a study out Monday that raises the chances of discovering a sister planet to ours. Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft found that about 17 percent of stars in our galaxy have a planet about the size of Earth in a close orbit. The Milky Way is known to host about 100 billion sta … more