How big can an Earth-like planet be? Astronomers thought they had a pretty good handle on this question but have just been given a fresh example of how nature never ceases to outpace our imaginations and show us something unexpected.
Recently, a major milestone in space exploration was reached: a planet was captured in a picture! The big deal is that the planet captured in this shot, a gas giant planet named Beta Pictoris b, is 63 light years away--over 100,000 times farther away than even Pluto.
NASA researchers announce they've verified 715 new planets orbiting around 305 stars.
Let's take a moment to tally a few of 2013's highlights of astronomy and space exploration. In brief, it was a very good year on a number of fronts.
If you think the list of achievements of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is impressive, consider that its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, will sport a mirror 21 feet across, with more than 20 times the light-collecting capability of its predecessor!