It’s a shame about Pluto. Now that the astronomical community has downgraded the once-furthest planet from the sun to non-planet status (technically it’s now referred to as a protoplanet or dwarf planet), our solar system is at risk of being unseated as the largest known planetary system in the universe. An astronomer at the University of Hertfordshire has revisited data related to nearby star HD 10180 and discovered that it very likely has nine planets, making it the most populous known solar system.
The red dwarf Gliese 581, one of our own solar system’s closest neighboring stars and a regular point of exoplanetary interest, can finally claim the title of owning the first confirmed potentially-habitable expolanet. French researchers running complex computer models have demonstrated that the planet Gliese 581d--once thought too cold to sustain life--indeed could possess the proper ingredients to sustain liquid water and an atmosphere.
Spotting exoplanets is hot science in astronomy right now, and researchers at the European Southern Observatory have just made a significant find: a planetary system some 127 light years away containing at least five Neptune like planets circling a sun much like our own.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.