In addition to filling balloons at birthday parties, helium can be found scattered throughout the cosmos. To date, however, scientists have struggled to detect the ubiquitous element on distant worlds, even though the gas is certain to be there. But that’s now changed, thanks to the discovery of helium on a Jupiter-sized world located 200 light-years from Earth—but that’s only part of the story. Continue reading The First Exoplanet Known to Contain Helium Is a Truly Alien World
Nearly 2,000 planets have been discovered outside our solar system, but this just might be the strangest one yet.
There are an estimated 700 million trillion terrestrial planets in the observable universe. Among them, Earth may very well be one of a kind according to a new study from Uppsala University in Sweden. Astronomer Erik Zackrisson and his team have been running computer simulations to model all of the terrestrial planets that are likely to exist in the universe. The probabilistic exoplanetary statistics that they’ve gleaned from these simulations could potentially upend the Copernican principle and will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal (it’s currently up on arXiv).
NASA has proven itself to be quite adept at finding planets lately, and this week is no exception: using the Spitzer Space Telescoe, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab have found HD 219134b, a rocky exoplanet ‘just’ 21 light-years away.