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Best Space Discoveries of 221st AAS Meeting

Alien Planets, Giant Galaxies and More

C. Pulliam & D. Aguilar (CfA)

Each January, the American Astronomical Society holds an annual meeting it bills as the "Super Bowl of Astronomy," where thousands of scientists from around the world gather to reveal the latest space discoveries.

This week, the 221st American Astronomical Society meeting unveiled several amazing discoveries about exoplanets, the largest spiral galaxy, the nature of space-time and more. Here is our look at the biggest news from the AAS conference.

FIRST STOP: Alien Asteroid Belt Discovered

Alien Asteroid Belt Discovery Hints at Hidden Planets

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have discovered a giant asteroid belt circling the bright star Vega, a find that may ultimately reveal an entire solar system of planets, scientists say. [Full Story]

NEXT: Wild Weather of Distant 'Failed Star' Revealed

Wild Weather of Distant 'Failed Star' Revealed

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have mapped out the weird and wild weather of a so-called "failed star" in unprecedented detail. [Full Story]

NEXT: NASA Finds 461 Alien Planet Candidates, Some Possibly Habitable

NASA Finds 461 Alien Planet Candidates, Some Possibly Habitable

NASA

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has detected 461 new potential alien planets, including four worlds slightly larger than Earth that may be capable of supporting life as we know it. [Full Story]

NEXT: 'Zombie' Planet's Rogue Orbit Around Star Shocks Scientists

'Zombie' Planet's Rogue Orbit Around Star Shocks Scientists

NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute)

The unbalanced orbit of a so-called "zombie planet" in a dusty star system has astronomers struggling to explain the exoplanet's behavior. [Full Story]

NEXT: Cosmic 'Bullets' Slam Orion Nebula in Dazzling Photo

Cosmic 'Bullets' Slam Orion Nebula in Dazzling Photo

Gemini Observatory/AURA

Astronomers have unveiled a spectacular new photo of supersonic "bullets" slicing through thick gas clouds in famed Orion nebula. [Full Story]

NEXT: 17 Billion Earth-Size Alien Planets Inhabit Milky Way

17 Billion Earth-Size Alien Planets Inhabit Milky Way

C. Pulliam & D. Aguilar (CfA)

Our galaxy hosts at least 17 billion Earth-size alien planets, a new study reports. [Full Story]

NEXT: Largest Spiral Galaxy in Universe Revealed

Largest Spiral Galaxy in Universe Revealed

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS

Astronomers have crowned the universe's largest known spiral galaxy, a spectacular behemoth five times bigger than our own Milky Way. [Full Story]

NEXT: Hubble Space Telescope Could Last Until 2018, NASA Says

Hubble Space Telescope Could Last Until 2018, NASA Says

NASA

NASA's 23-year-old Hubble Space Telescope is still going strong, and agency officials said Tuesday (Jan. 8) they plan to operate it until its instruments finally give out, potentially for another six years at least. [Full Story]

NEXT: Einstein Was Right: Space-Time Is Smooth, Not Foamy

Einstein Was Right: Space-Time Is Smooth, Not Foamy

NASA

Space-time is smooth rather than foamy, a new study suggests, scoring a possible victory for the late Albert Einstein over some quantum theorists who came after him. [Full Story]

NEXT: Most Earth-Like Alien Planet Possibly Found

Most Earth-Like Alien Planet Possibly Found

PHL @ UPR Arecibo, ESA/Hubble, NASA

A possible alien planet recently found by the Kepler telescope is the most Earth-like world beyond our solar system to date, experts say. [Full Story]

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