Institute of Astronomy

Planets

‘Sunscreen’ Layer found on Extreme Planet

Published on 10/06/2015 

NASA scientists detected a stratosphere on WASP-33b by measuring the drop in light as the planet passed behind its star (top). Temperatures in the low stratosphere rise (right) because of molecules absorbing radiation from the star; otherwise, temperatures would cool down at higher altitudes (left).

Link to the accompanying NASA vido on Youtube.

‘Sunscreen’ layer detected on distant planet

Discovery shows what the solar system looked like as a ‘toddler’

Published on 26/05/2015 

Astronomers have discovered a disc of planetary debris surrounding a young sun-like star that shares remarkable similarities with the Kuiper Belt that lies beyond Neptune, and may aid in understanding how our solar system developed.

An international team of astronomers, including researchers from the University of Cambridge, has identified a young planetary system which may aid in understanding how our own solar system formed and developed billions of years ago.

Astronomers find first evidence of changing conditions on a super Earth

Published on 04/05/2015 

Astronomers find first evidence of changing conditions on a super Earth
Astronomers have detected wildly changing temperatures on a super Earth – the first time any atmospheric variability has been observed on a rocky planet outside the solar system – and believe it could be due to huge amounts of volcanic activity, further adding to the mystery of what had been nicknamed the ‘diamond planet’.  

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Published on 27/11/2012 

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered vast comet belts surrounding two nearby planetary systems known to host only Earth-to-Neptune-mass worlds. The comet reservoirs could have delivered life-giving oceans to the innermost planets.