What Alien Solar Systems Are Like

N.A.S.A.'s Kepler Space Telescope detected 1,235 alien planet candidates in its first four months of operation. Alien solar systems with multiple planets appear to be common in our galaxy.

What's the Latest Development?


Of the 1,235 candidate planets N.A.S.A.'s Kepler space telescope has recently discovered, 408 reside in multiple-planet systems, suggesting that our own configuration of multiple worlds orbiting a single star isn't so special. "What may be special, however, is the orientation of our solar system's planets. Some of them are tilted significantly off the solar system's plane, while most of the Kepler systems are nearly as flat as a tabletop, researchers said. ... The 1,235 candidate planets detected so far still need to be confirmed by follow-up studies, though researchers estimate at least 80 percent of them will pan out."

What's the Big Idea?

The discovery of so many alien worlds is yet another big find in our increasing capacity to look beyond our Earth. Nearly one-third of the Kepler candidates are part of multiple-planet solar systems, which came as a surprise to researchers. "'We didn't anticipate that we would find so many multiple-transit systems,' said astronomer David Latham, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in a statement. 'We thought we might see two or three. Instead, we found more than 100. ... As Kepler continues to gather data, it will be able to spot planets with wider orbits, including some in the habitable zones of their stars."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less