Hypothetical illustration of the surface of Kepler 186f: Lycoris


Kepler 186f, “Lycoris” by Karen Wehrstein. And she does this stuff at no charge, she depends solely on contribs. If anyone wants to drop a buck or two in her Paypal account at hearth@xplornet.com that would be great.


We won’t know details of the surface of 186f for years, probably decades, at best. It could be a cool Venus, a warm Mars, or a water world with a thick, steamy atmosphere and no clear surface transition between vapor and liquid phases. It could have a highly reflective atmosphere or surface, locking it into a snowball state, colder than the North Pole and drier than the Atacama desert. It could be like nothing we have yet imagined. But we can have some fun guessing[Read more…]

Kepler hits the exo-planetary jackpot


Ustream NASA press conference here (highly recommended). An artist friend may try to squeeze in a hypo illustration. But if someone wants to submit an image of what they think surface might look like, have at it. I’ll consider anything received by tomorrow at 5 PM Central for the science round up at Daily Kos linked to the web site of your choosing.
Hiding in plain sight in data already received from the now defunct Kepler observatory was the best candidate yet for the Holy Grail in planetary astronomy. It’s almost exactly the same size as Earth, maybe a touch larger, and it orbits in the cooler part of the system’s habitable zone: [Read more…]

Kepler spies a new solar system that looks familiar

We’ve found a lot of strange exo-planets in the last two decades, hot Jupiter’s spiraling into their star like giant comets and super earths that could be covered in exotic oceans and ices hundreds of miles deep. Before it’s all over, Kepler may end up being the most famous name in all the Milky Way galaxy! Now the plucky telescope by the same name has found an alien system that looks a little more familiar in one key respect: [Read more…]

Exosolar odd couple boosts idea of planetary migration

We’ve talked a little bit about planetary migration and how it might happen. For some reason, a good chunk of distant solar systems feature hot Jupiter’s, large enough that they may have formed in the frost belt, orbiting crazy close to their primary star.  Tidal deceleration, interaction and collision with other planets or smaller objects, detection bias? A new system worlds that could collide may offer clues: [Read more…]