Keyword: xplanets

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  • Alien rights-When we meet, it won’t be a friendly encounter nor a conquest: it'll be a gold rush

    06/16/2015 12:54:55 AM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 24 replies
    Aeon Blog ^ | June 11, 2015 | Lizzie Wade, Latin America correspondent for Science
    It wasn’t the Martians’ fault their planet died. If they existed – once – Martians were likely microbes, living in a world much like our own, warmed by an atmosphere and crisscrossed by waterways. But Mars began to lose that atmosphere, perhaps because its gravity wasn’t strong enough to hold onto it after an asteroid impact, or perhaps it was gradually blown away by solar winds. The cause is still mysterious, but the ending is clear: Mars’s liquid water dried up or froze into ice caps, leaving life without its most precious resource. Any Martians would have been victims of...
  • We're Pumped Up About Visiting Pluto After Seeing This NASA Video

    06/13/2015 7:28:00 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    Popular Science TV ^ | June 12th, 2015 | Sarah Fecht
    In July, New Horizons crosses the next great frontier in our solar system. Mankind is about to visit one of the strangest places in our solar system. Out beyond Neptune, the Kuiper belt is home to hordes of cold, lumpy worlds -- some of which are large enough to have their own moons, but none of which we've seen up-close before. That's going to change this summer, when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by "the king of the Kuiper belt": Pluto. It's no longer considered a planet, but Pluto is still an important member of our solar system, and one...
  • Pluto a Planet Again? It May Happen This Year

    06/08/2015 10:44:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    The Crux, Discover 'blogs ^ | February 25, 2015 | David A. Weintraub, Vanderbilt University
    Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, and NASA's Dawn spacecraft will arrive there on March 6. Pluto is the largest object in the Kuiper belt, and NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will arrive there on July 15... The efforts of a very small clique of Pluto-haters within the International Astronomical Union (IAU) plutoed Pluto in 2006. Of the approximately 10,000 internationally registered members of the IAU in 2006, only 237 voted in favor of the resolution redefining Pluto as a "dwarf planet" while 157 voted against; the other 9,500 members were not present... Unlike the larger planets, however,...
  • Pluto's Moons Tumble in Orbit, Hubble Measurements Reveal

    06/03/2015 6:06:41 PM PDT · by lbryce · 7 replies
    Guardian ^ | June 3, 2015 | Robert McKie
    Puto Video http://cdn.theguardian.tv/mainwebsite/2015/04/16/150416pluto_desk.mp4 Pluto’s moons have been tracked closely for the first time, showing that they tumble unpredictably rather than keeping one face fixed on their host planet. Astronomers also observed that Pluto, whose status was downgraded to a dwarf planet in 2006, might be better regarded as a binary dwarf as it is locked in orbit with its largest moon, called Charon. The twin system creates an imbalanced and shifting gravitational field, which sends the tiny outer moons spinning chaotically, the measurements from the Hubble space telescope showed. Target Pluto: fastest spaceship set for epic encounter with our remotest...
  • Weird Orbital Behaviors Offer Clues to the Origins of Pluto's Moons

    06/03/2015 3:29:55 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    smithsonianmag. ^ | June 3, 2015 1:00PM | Jay Bennett
    The dwarf planet Pluto and its system of five moons are about as mysterious as the underworld of antiquity that inspired their names. ... “We are still baffled by how the system formed,” says study co-author Mark Showalter, a senior research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. “I think everyone believes that, at some point in the distant past, a large object bashed into ‘proto-Pluto’ and the moons formed out of the debris cloud. However, after that point in the story, details get very sketchy.” Now, analysis of data collected from the Hubble Space Telescope following the...
  • Snapshot of the Oldest Light in the Universe --"Reveals Clues to Its Origin"

    05/29/2015 3:11:48 PM PDT · by lbryce · 24 replies
    Daily Galaxy ^ | May 29, 2015 | Staff
    Astrophysicists have developed a new method for calculating the effect of Rayleigh scattering on photons, potentially allowing researchers to better understand the formation of the Universe. The CMB is the oldest light in the universe, which originated when electrons combined with protons to form the first atoms. These primordial atoms were also the first to Rayleigh scatter light. UBC theoretical cosmology graduate student Elham Alipour, UBC physicist Kris Sigurdson and Ohio State University astrophysicist Christopher Hirata probed the effect of Rayleigh scattering -- the process that makes the sky appear blue when the Sun's photons are scattered by molecules...
  • Mystery Methane on Mars: The Saga Continues

    05/26/2015 12:13:04 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 30 replies
    Astrobiology Magazine ^ | May 14, 2015 | Johnny Bontemps
    A scientist has raised questions about the latest detection of methane on Mars, suggesting that NASA’s rover could be responsible for the mysterious burp. Highly unlikely, but not impossible, says the Curiosity team.
  • What Would It Be Like to Live on Alien Planet Kepler-186f?

    05/11/2015 1:42:41 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    Space.com ^ | May 09, 2015 | Joseph Castro
    In recent years, NASA's Kepler space telescope and other observatories have discovered more than 1,800 extra-solar planets, with thousands of additional "candidate" planets awaiting confirmation. Current technology is nowhere near able to allow quick intergalactic travel, but if you somehow wound up on an Earth-size alien world, what would you experience? Last year, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f — the first Earth-size exoplanet found in its star's habitable zone, the region of space in a planetary system where liquid water (and, therefore, life) could exist. "The star [Kepler-186] is about half the size and about half the mass of...
  • A Remarkable Direct Image Of A Nearby Super-Jupiter

    05/11/2015 1:38:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 33 replies
    io9 ^ | George Dvorsky
    Typically, exoplanets are observed indirectly using such techniques as the transit method, or by measuring changes in the radial velocity of host stars. In the vast majority of cases, astronomers aren’t able to detect the light from these planets due to their extreme distance from observational equipment. But VHS J1256b—a gas giant located 40 light-years from Earth—is close enough, bright enough, and distant enough from its host star to be seen and distinguished by our telescopes. The direct image of VHS J1256b, along with its spectral signature, was acquired by scientists at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries (IAC),...
  • Thorium Abundances in Solar Twins and Analogues: Implications for the Habitability of Extrasolar...

    05/11/2015 11:50:43 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    Astrobiology ^ | May 4, 2015 | astro-ph.EP
    We present the first investigation of Th abundances in Solar twins and analogues to understand the possible range of this radioactive element and its effect on rocky planet interior dynamics and potential habitability. The abundances of the radioactive elements Th and U are key components of a planet's energy budget, making up 30% to 50% of the Earth's (Korenaga 2008; Allegre et al. 2001; Schubert et al. 1980; Lyubetskaya & Korenaga 2007; The KamLAND Collaboration 2011; Huang et al. 2013). Radiogenic heat drives interior mantle convection and surface plate tectonics, which sustains a deep carbon and water cycle and thereby...
  • New exoplanet too big for its stars

    05/01/2015 9:10:45 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 40 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05/01/2015 | Provided by Australian National University
    The Australian discovery of a strange exoplanet orbiting a small cool star 500 light years away is challenging ideas about how planets form. "We have found a small star, with a giant planet the size of Jupiter, orbiting very closely," said researcher George Zhou from the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy. "It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can't explain how this happened." In the past two decades more than 1,800 extrasolar planets (or exoplanets) have been discovered outside our solar system orbiting around other stars. The host star of the latest exoplanet, HATS-6,...
  • There are at Least 11 Runaway Galaxies Screaming Across the Universe

    04/26/2015 10:33:52 AM PDT · by lbryce · 18 replies
    Gizmodo ^ | April 26, 2015 | Maddie Stone
    Every now and then, astronomers spy a runaway star, one that’s hurling itself across its galaxy at breakneck speeds. But stars aren’t the only things that occasionally go beserker in the cosmic void: Galaxies themselves will sometimes depart home, never to return. In fact, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have now spotted 11 renegade galaxies, screaming across intergalactic space at up to 6 million miles per hour. Each of these star blobs has surpassed escape velocity, meaning that it’s broken the gravitational bonds holding it in its cosmic neighborhood. The discovery of these lonely exiles appears this...
  • Mysterious 'supervoid' in space is largest object ever discovered, scientists claim

    04/20/2015 1:25:31 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 92 replies
    www.telegraph.co.u ^ | 7:09PM BST 20 Apr 2015 | By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
    A supervoid has been discovered in the universe which is too big to fit into current models Astronomers have discovered a curious empty section of space which is missing around 10,000 galaxies. The ‘supervoid’, which is 1.8 billion light-years across, is the largest known structure ever discovered in the universe but scientists are baffled about what it is and why it is so barren. It sits in a region of space which is much colder than other parts of the universe and although it is not a vacuum, it seems to have around 20 per cent less matter than other...
  • Planet spotted deep within our galaxy: One of the most distant planets known

    04/19/2015 4:46:01 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 12 replies
    ScienceDaily ^ | April 14, 2015 | Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with a telescope on the ground to find a remote gas planet about 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known.
  • Aliens Are Enormous, Science Suggests

    04/05/2015 12:14:03 PM PDT · by PROCON · 54 replies
    newsweek.com ^ | April 5, 2015 | Douglas Main
    Aliens, if they exist, are likely huge. At least that’s the conclusion of a new paper by cosmologist Fergus Simpson, who has estimated that the average weight of intelligent extraterrestrials would be 650 pounds (300 kilograms) or more. ET would have paled in comparison to these interstellar behemoths. The argument relies on a mathematical model that assumes organisms on other planets obey the same laws of conservation of energy that we see here on Earth—namely, that larger animals need more resources and expend more energy, and thus are less abundant. There are many small ants, for example, but far...
  • Star's birth glimpsed 'in real time'

    04/03/2015 4:01:46 AM PDT · by WhiskeyX · 21 replies
    BBC ^ | 3 April 2015 | BBC
    Astronomers have witnessed a key stage in the birth of a very heavy star, using two radio telescope views of the process taken 18 years apart. The young star is 4,200 light-years from Earth and appears to be surrounded by a doughnut-shaped cloud of dust.
  • Fact or Fiction?: Dark Matter Killed the Dinosaurs

    04/02/2015 10:15:04 PM PDT · by grundle · 58 replies
    Scientific American ^ | March 25, 2015 | Lee Billings
    A new out-of-this-world theory links mass extinctions with exotic astrophysics and galactic architecture Every once in a great while, something almost unspeakable happens to Earth. Some terrible force reaches out and tears the tree of life limb from limb. In a geological instant, countless creatures perish and entire lineages simply cease to exist. The most famous of these mass extinctions happened about 66 million years ago, when the dinosaurs died out in the planet-wide environmental disruption that followed a mountain-sized space rock walloping Earth. We can still see the scar from the impact today as a nearly 200-kilometer-wide crater in...
  • Mercury 'painted black' by passing comets

    03/30/2015 4:18:47 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    Mercury reflects very little light but its surface is low in iron, which rules out the presence of iron nanoparticles, the most likely "darkening agent". First, researchers modelled how much carbon-rich material could have been dropped on Mercury by passing comets. Then they fired projectiles at a sugar-coated basalt rock to confirm the darkening effect of carbon. Their results, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, support the idea that Mercury was "painted black" by cometary dust over billions of years. The effect of being intermittently blasted with tiny, carbon-rich "micrometeorites", the team says, is more than enough to account for...
  • Report says most stars in galaxy have planets in habitable zone

    03/29/2015 5:27:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 31 replies
    Yakima Herald Republic ^ | March 22, 2015 | Rachel Feltman, Washington Post
    For a planet to have liquid water -- something necessary to support life as we know it -- it has to be within a certain distance of its star. Too close, and the water burns up. Too far away, and it's a frozen wasteland. But according to new research, most stars in the galaxy have so-called "Goldilocks planets," which sit in the habitable zone, where temperatures are just right for life... The calculations, which were produced by a group of researchers from the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, are based on a...
  • ESA's CHEOPS satellite to hunt transits of suspected exoplanets

    03/29/2015 5:21:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    Phys dot org ^ | March 18, 2015 | Tomasz Nowakowski, Astrowatch
    Just like the Pharaoh Cheops, who ruled the ancient Old Kingdom of Egypt, ESA's CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite (CHEOPS) could be someday ruling in the field of exoplanet hunting. It will be the first mission dedicated to search for transits by means of ultrahigh precision photometry on bright stars already known to host planets... Large ground-based high-precision Doppler spectroscopic surveys carried out during the last years have identified hundreds of stars hosting planets in the super-Earth to Neptune mass range and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. The characteristics of these stars and the knowledge of the planet...
  • Hubble Search for Transit of the Earth-mass Exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb

    Results from exoplanet surveys indicate that small planets (super-Earth size and below) are abundant in our Galaxy. However, little is known about their interiors and atmospheres. There is therefore a need to find small planets transiting bright stars, which would enable a detailed characterisation of this population of objects. We present the results of a search for the transit of the Earth-mass exoplanet Alpha Centauri Bb with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). We observed Alpha Centauri B twice in 2013 and 2014 for a total of 40 hours. We achieve a precision of 115 ppm per 6-s exposure time in...
  • Young Jupiter wiped out solar system's early inner planets, study says

    03/23/2015 5:01:44 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    The more planetary systems astronomers discovered, the more our own solar system looked like an oddball. Exoplanets – at least the ones big enough for us to see – tended to be bigger than Earth, with tight orbits that took them much closer to their host stars. In multi-planet systems, these orbits tended to be much closer together than they are in our solar system. For instance, the star known as Kepler-11 has six planets closer to it than Venus is to the sun. Why does our solar system look so different? Astrophysicists Konstantin Batygin of Caltech and Greg Laughlin...
  • In Milky Way, 100 Billion Planets May Exist in Habitable Zone

    03/23/2015 12:44:17 AM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 57 replies
    Weather.com ^ | March 18, 2015 | Michele Berger
    Life on Earth exists becuase of the sun and our distance from it. Without that star and the energy it gives off, we’d be what NASA once described as a “lifeless ball of ice-coated rock.” Luckily, we are far enough from it, and as of right now, it’s not radiating so much light as to make our planet uninhabitable. In some ways, we’re in the sweet spot, and researchers may have discovered many more such connections. Stars in the Milky Way may have 100 billion planets — two, on average, per star — in their habitable zone, the area far...
  • Is This Picture a 'Seed' Sent to Earth by Aliens? Scientists Discover Mysterious Organism

    03/01/2015 1:26:58 PM PST · by lbryce · 107 replies
    SundayExpress ^ | January 25, 2015 | Nathan Rao
    Some scientists believe this is a seed sent to earth by aliens The never-before seen image shows a microscopic metal globe spewing out biological material feared to be an infectious agent. Though the origin or purpose of the mysterious sphere is uncertain, experts say it could contain genetic material - the precursor to life. They sensationally claim it could have been designed by an intelligent species to “seed” and propagate alien life on Earth. It is the first time anything like this has been seen and points not only to the existence of extra-terrestrial life, but to complex and...
  • Earth's other 'moon' and its crazy orbit could reveal mysteries of the solar system

    02/26/2015 6:29:41 AM PST · by Red Badger · 47 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 02-25-2015 | by Duncan Forgan
    We all know and love the moon. We're so assured that we only have one that we don't even give it a specific name. It is the brightest object in the night sky, and amateur astronomers take great delight in mapping its craters and seas. To date, it is the only other heavenly body with human footprints. What you might not know is that the moon is not the Earth's only natural satellite. As recently as 1997, we discovered that another body, 3753 Cruithne, is what's called a quasi-orbital satellite of Earth. This simply means that Cruithne doesn't loop around...
  • Could there be another planet behind the sun?

    02/24/2015 11:08:07 AM PST · by Red Badger · 71 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 02-24-2015 | by Fraser Cain, Universe Today
    If you've read your share of sci-fi, and I know you have, you've read stories about another Earth-sized planet orbiting on the other side of the Solar System, blocked by the Sun. Could it really be there? =========================================================== Color illustration showing the scale of planets in our solar system, focusing on Jupiter and Saturn. Credit: NASA =========================================================== No. Nooooo. No. Just no. This is a delightful staple in science fiction. There's a mysterious world that orbits the Sun exactly the same distance as Earth, but it's directly across the Solar System from us; always hidden by the Sun. Little do...
  • A close call of 0.8 light years [Nibiru?]

    02/22/2015 7:43:37 AM PST · by Red Badger · 38 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | Provided by University of Rochester
    A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close - five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri. In a paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, lead author Eric Mamajek from the University of Rochester and his collaborators analyzed the velocity and trajectory of a low-mass star system nicknamed "Scholz's star." The star's trajectory...
  • Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets

    02/18/2015 6:20:37 AM PST · by Red Badger · 5 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 02-17-2015 | Provided by Institute of Physics
    The hunt for Earth-like planets around distant stars could soon become a lot easier thanks to a technique developed by researchers in Germany. In a paper published today, 18 February, in the New Journal of Physics, the team of researchers have successfully demonstrated how a solar telescope can be combined with a piece of technology that has already taken the physics world by storm—the laser frequency comb (LFC). It is expected the technique will allow a spectral analysis of distant stars with unprecedented accuracy, as well as advance research in other areas of astrophysics, such as detailed observations of the...
  • Star Blasted Through Solar System 70,000 Years Ago

    02/18/2015 1:11:46 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 113 replies
    discovery.com ^ | Ian O'Neill
    Highlighted by astronomers at the University of Rochester and the European Southern Observatory, the star — nicknamed “Scholz’s star” — has a very low tangential velocity in the sky, but it has been clocked traveling at a breakneck speed away from us. In other words, from our perspective, Scholz’s star is fleeing the scene of a collision with us. “Most stars this nearby show much larger tangential motion,” said Eric Mamajek, of the University of Rochester. “The small tangential motion and proximity initially indicated that the star was most likely either moving towards a future close encounter with the solar...
  • Refuting The Laws of Physics, Part 2 of 2

    02/09/2015 6:23:56 AM PST · by Kaslin · 44 replies
    Townhall.com ^ | February 9, 2015 | Mark Baisley
    Last month, I was invited to deliver the keynote address to a gathering of local Republican leaders at one of those pricey fundraising dinners. I knew that for thirty minutes, I would have the uninterrupted attention of an impressive gathering of involved conservatives and elected officials, including two United States Congressmen seated right up front. I did not want to spend that rare circumstance on temporal matters like encouraging a “Yes” vote to approve the Keystone Pipeline. Plus, I felt an obligation to deliver a speech that would seem worthy of $150 per plate. So after investing much thought, I...
  • The Moment We’ve been Waiting For: First New Images of Pluto from New Horizons

    02/05/2015 7:23:34 AM PST · by kidd · 28 replies
    Universe Today ^ | February 4, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    Here we go! New Horizons is now on approach and today – on the anniversary of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s birth – the spacecraft has sent back its first new images of the Pluto system. The images aren’t Earth-shattering (Pluto-shattering?) but they do represent the mission is closing in on its target, and will allow the New Horizons engineers to precisely aim the spacecraft as it continues its approach. The photos were taken with the telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on January 25 and 27, 2015. “Pluto is finally becoming more than just a pinpoint of light,” said Hal Weaver,...
  • Curiosity spitting odd findings after Mars dust feast

    02/07/2015 7:18:53 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 12 replies
    slashgear.com ^ | Chris Davies
    NASA's Curiosity rover has been busy with its drill again, and analysis of the second sample of Martian rock is already turning up some unexpected conditions back when the red planet supported liquid water. Curiosity put its low-percussion-level drill into play for the first time last week, carving a chunk out of a site known as "Mojave 2" at the base of Mount Sharp, and feeding it in powder form into its Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. Turns out, even though the analysis isn't finished yet, there are already signs of a surprising amount of jarosite, to a degree that...
  • Riding light -- the enormity of space makes even light seem slow (45 min video)

    02/01/2015 11:37:26 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 35 replies
    Vimeo ^ | 1/25/15 | Alphonse Swinehart
    ==> Click here <== to watch video. Riding Light from Alphonse Swinehart Plus 6 days ago All Audiences In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it's unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system. I've taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, but overall I've kept the size and distances of all the objects as...
  • Refuting The Laws of Physics, Part 1 of 2

    02/01/2015 12:04:38 PM PST · by Kaslin · 19 replies
    Townhall.com ^ | February 1, 2015 | Mark Baisley
    I count myself among the many astrogeeks who (1) keep track of where all the visible planets are and who (2) hold a considered opinion regarding whether Pluto should have been downgraded from full planet status. (BTW, yes, Pluto deserves the demotion to dwarf planet; not just because it is even smaller than the dwarf planet Eris, but also because Pluto can’t walk upright like Goofy). This month provides particularly interesting evenings for stargazers. Five planets — Mars, Neptune, Venus, Uranus, and Mercury — are all bunched up within a few degrees of each other from the perspective of Earth....
  • Astronomical discovery: 'Super Saturn' with rings 200 times as large

    01/28/2015 2:55:55 PM PST · by Drew68 · 28 replies
    CNN ^ | 28 Jan 15 | Ben Brumfield
    (CNN)In 1610, after he built his telescope, Galileo Galilei first spotted enormous Saturn's gigantic rings. More than 400 years later, astronomers have in a sense dwarfed that discovery with a similar first. Using powerful optics, they have found a much larger planet-like body, J1407b, with rings 200 times the size of Saturn's, U.S. and Dutch astronomers said. It lies some 400 light-years away from Earth. For decades, scientists have believed that many moons around large planets formed out of such ring systems. But this is the first one astronomers have observed aside from Saturn's, they said. It was discovered in...
  • Strange Comet Discoveries Revealed by Rosetta Spacecraft

    01/23/2015 7:39:21 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 54 replies
    Space.com ^ | January 22, 2015 02:03pm ET | Miriam Kramer,
    Researchers working with Rosetta have found that the comet harbors organic compounds, carbon-based molecules that are sometimes known as the chemical building blocks of life. This marks the first time organic molecules have been detected on the surface of a comet's nucleus, according to Fabrizio Capaccioni, the principal investigator of the VIRTIS instrument on Rosetta. The northern hemisphere of the comet's nucleus is also filled with dunes and ripples that look somewhat like geological markings on Earth, Mars and Venus. Comet 67P/C-G doesn't have a robust atmosphere and high gravity like those planets, and yet it still has structures resembling...
  • Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star

    01/20/2015 12:05:17 PM PST · by Red Badger · 23 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | Jan 16, 2015 | Provided by University of Arizona
    NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, despite being hobbled by the loss of critical guidance systems, has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth. The outermost planet orbits in the "Goldilocks" zone, a region where surface temperatures could be moderate enough for liquid water and perhaps life, to exist. The star, EPIC 201367065, is a cool red M-dwarf about half the size and mass of our own sun. At a distance of 150 light years, the star ranks among the top 10 nearest stars known to have transiting planets. The star's proximity means it's bright enough for astronomers...
  • Two more planets in our Solar System, say astronomers

    01/20/2015 8:54:04 AM PST · by Red Badger · 51 replies
    www.businessinsider.com ^ | Jan. 19, 2015, 8:40 AM | Richard INGHAM, AFP
    Paris (AFP) - The Solar System has at least two more planets waiting to be discovered beyond the orbit of Pluto, Spanish and British astronomers say. The official list of planets in our star system runs to eight, with gas giant Neptune the outermost. Beyond Neptune, Pluto was relegated to the status of "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, although it is still championed by some as the most distant planet from the Sun. In a study published in the latest issue of the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers propose that "at...
  • 'Orphan' alien planet with no parent is found near Earth

    11/14/2012 7:55:04 PM PST · by Altariel · 48 replies
    MSNBC ^ | November 14, 2012 | Mike Wall
    Astronomers have discovered a potential "rogue" alien planet wandering alone just 100 light-years from Earth, suggesting that such starless worlds may be extremely common across the galaxy. The free-floating object, called CFBDSIR2149, is likely a gas giant planet four to seven times more massive than Jupiter, scientists say in a new study unveiled Wednesday. The planet cruises unbound through space relatively close to Earth (in astronomical terms), perhaps after being booted from its own solar system. "If this little object is a planet that has been ejected from its native system, it conjures up the striking image of orphaned worlds,...
  • Neptune may have eaten a planet and stolen its moon

    04/03/2010 9:16:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies · 771+ views
    New Scientist ^ | March 22, 2010 | David Shiga
    Neptune's own existence was a puzzle until recently. The dusty cloud that gave birth to the planets probably thinned out further from the sun. With building material so scarce, it is hard to understand how Uranus and Neptune, the two outermost planets, managed to get so big. But what if they formed closer in? In 2005, a team of scientists proposed that the giant planets shifted positions in an early upheaval (New Scientist, 25 November 2006, p 40). In this scenario, Uranus and Neptune formed much closer to the sun and migrated outwards, possibly swapping places in the process. That...
  • Milky Way could hold hundreds of rogue black holes: study

    01/09/2008 3:07:12 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 14 replies · 191+ views
    AFP on Yahoo ^ | 1/09/08 | AFP
    CHICAGO (AFP) - Hundreds of rogue black holes may be roaming around the Milky Way waiting to engulf stars and planets that cross their path, US astronomers said Wednesday. The astronomers believe these "intermediate mass" black holes are invisible except in rare circumstances and have been spawned by mergers of black holes within globular clusters -- swarms of stars held together by their mutual gravity. These black holes are unlikely to pose a threat to Earth, but may engulf nebulae, stars and planets that stray into their paths, the researchers said. "These rogue black holes are extremely unlikely to do...
  • Three New Earth-Size Planets Found "Nearby"

    01/18/2015 2:15:42 PM PST · by dila813 · 32 replies
    Forbes ^ | 1/18/2015 @ 12:00PM | Eric Mack
    The Kepler space telescope has spotted over 1,000 exoplanets beyond our solar system, and its latest finds are three almost Earth-sized planets, including one in the habitable zone circling the star EPIC 201367075, just 150 light years from Earth. In the cosmic sense, that’s right around the block, making it one of the 10 closest known stars with observed planets in its gravitational hold. Of course, such distances in the cosmic sense also would take many generations to traverse, so don’t invest in real estate there just yet. Still, the relative closeness of this “EPIC” star and its planets provides...
  • New Examination of Trans-Neptunian Objects Suggests Two Planets Lurk in Outer Solar System

    01/16/2015 11:06:16 AM PST · by lbryce · 20 replies
    From Quarks to Quasars ^ | January 16, 2015 | James Trosper
    Presently, our solar system is known to contain 4 fully-fledged rocky worlds: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars; 2 ice-giants: Neptune and Uranus; 2 gas-giants, Saturn and Neptune; 5 dwarf-planets, Ceres. Pluto, Eris, MakeMake, Haumea; around 100 moons; and an unknowable number of comets, asteroids and minor planets. Indeed, we’ve only begun to understand the full scope of our local corner of our galaxy, and new information emerges on a monthly-basis, yet there a number of seemingly obvious things that remain unknown. For instance, long before Pluto’s existence was deduced, astronomers scoured the outer solar system in search of another large...
  • Astronomers are Predicting at Least Two More Large Planets in the Solar System

    01/15/2015 3:45:27 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 77 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 15, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    In their studies, the team analyzed the effects of what is called the ‘Kozai mechanism,’ which is related to the gravitational perturbation that a large body exerts on the orbit of another much smaller and further away object. They looked at how the highly eccentric comet 96P/Machholz1 is influenced by Jupiter (it will come near the orbit of Mercury in 2017, but it travels as much as 6 AU at aphelion) and it may “provide the key to explain the puzzling clustering of orbits around argument of perihelion close to 0° recently found for the population of ETNOs,” the team...
  • 'Bent time' tips pulsar out of view

    01/10/2015 2:33:39 PM PST · by moose07 · 53 replies
    BBC ^ | 9 January 2015 | Jonathan Webb
    A pulsar, one of deep space’s spinning “lighthouses”, has faded from view because a warp in space-time tilted its beams away from Earth. The tiny, heavy pulsar is locked in a fiercely tight orbit with another star. The gravity between them is so extreme that it is thought to emit waves and to bend space - making the pulsar wobble. By tracking its motion closely for five years, astronomers determined the pulsar’s weight and also quantified the gravitational disturbance. Then, the pulsar vanished. Its wheeling beams of radio waves now pass us by, and the researchers have calculated that this...
  • NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

    12/16/2014 4:22:20 PM PST · by Islander7 · 23 replies
    JPL ^ | Dec 16, 2014 | Staff
    NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill. "This temporary increase in methane -- sharply up and then back down -- tells us there must be some relatively localized source," said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. "There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock."
  • The Dark Energy Survey Begins to Reveal Previously Unknown Trans-Neptunian Objects

    01/07/2015 7:35:37 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 7, 2015 | Tim Reyes
    While asteroids residing in the inner solar system will pass quickly through such small fields, trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) orbit the Sun much more slowly. For example, Pluto, at an approximate distance of 40 A.U. from the Sun, along with the object Eris, presently the largest of the TNOs, has an apparent motion of about 27 arc seconds per day – although for a half year, the Earth’s orbital motion slows and retrogrades Pluto’s apparent motion. The 27 arc seconds is approximately 1/60th the width of a full Moon. So, from one night to the next, TNOs can travel as much...
  • Stars Passing Close to the Sun

    01/02/2015 11:41:56 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 32 replies
    Centauri Dreams ^ | 1/2/15 | Paul Gilster
    Stars Passing Close to the Sunby Paul Gilster on January 2, 2015 Every time I mention stellar distances I’m forced to remind myself that the cosmos is anything but static. Barnard’s Star, for instance, is roughly six light years away, a red dwarf that was the target of the original Daedalus starship designers back in the 1970s. But that distance is changing. If we were a species with a longer lifetime, we could wait about eight thousand years, at which time Barnard’s Star would close to less than four light years. No star shows a larger proper motion relative to...
  • A Time-Capsule Launched into Space for Aliens to Find When All the Humans Are Gone

    12/04/2012 7:36:38 AM PST · by ExxonPatrolUs · 26 replies
    The Atlantic ^ | 11-30 | Austin Considine
    Billions of years from now, when the earth has erased all traces of our stay here, hundreds of dead satellites will remain in orbit around the earth. Along with these pictures.
  • Gamma Ray Bursts Limit The Habitability of Certain Galaxies, Says Study

    12/11/2014 2:59:54 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 27 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on December 11, 2014 | by Vanessa Janek
    In fact, according to the authors of the new paper, there is a 90% chance that a GRB powerful enough to destroy Earth’s ozone layer occurred in our stellar neighborhood some time in the last 5 billion years, and a 50% chance that such an event occurred within the last half billion years. These odds indicate a possible trigger for the second worst mass extinction in Earth’s history: the Ordovician Extinction. This great decimation occurred 440-450 million years ago and led to the death of more than 80% of all species.