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Keyword: xplanets

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  • The Dwarf Planet Orcus

    08/29/2015 5:18:21 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | Matt Williams
    Orcus was discovered on February 17th, 2004, by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale University. Although discovered using images that were taken in 2004, prerecovery images of Orcus have been identified going back as far as November 8th, 1951. In accordance with the IAUís astronomical conventions, objects with a similar size and orbit to that of Pluto are to be named after underworld deities. Therefore, the discovery team suggested the name Orcus, after the Etruscan god of the underworld and the equivalent of the Roman god Pluto. estimates of Orcusí diameter...
  • Astronomers Discover A New Exoplanet Orbiting in ĎHabitable Zoneí of Two Stars

    08/14/2015 11:59:01 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    Celebrity Cafe ^ | August 14, 2015 | Tina Kim
    If there were life on the planet however, they would witness a sky much like the one shown on the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars film franchise with two blazing suns which orbit each other every 27 days. Kepler-453b is the tenth example of a planet orbiting a binary star system that Kepler has found... Most appear to sport large planets many times the mass of Earth close to their stars, whereas in our solar system the small rocky planets are in the inner regions, while the larger gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn are scattered much further out....
  • Jupiter-like Planet Discovered Outside our Solar System

    08/14/2015 2:15:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    SpaceRef ^ | August 13, 2015 | UCLA
    The planet, called 51 Eridani b, is only 20 million years old a mere infant by astronomy standards. (Jupiter, the sun and Earth are all about 4.5 billion years old.) It is the first planet detected by the Gemini Planet Imager, or GPI, which was designed to discover and analyze faint, young planets orbiting bright, nearby stars... Larkin and colleagues at UCLA's Infrared Laboratory for Astrophysics developed and built GPI's highly advanced spectrometer, which enabled the instrument to detect the presence of methane on 51 Eridani b. It revealed that the planet has the strongest concentration of methane ever detected...
  • Perhaps Aliens like Continuous Streaming, Too

    08/02/2015 8:59:19 AM PDT · by null and void · 13 replies
    Scientific Computing ^ | Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:36am | Suzanne Tracy
    The Voyager Golden Record recordings are now available on Soundcloud, which means that anyone with an Internet connection can experience NASAís ďtime capsuleĒ for themselves, knowing that the originals are still traveling through empty space or the heliosphere.The Voyager Golden Records, included aboard both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977, are phonograph records ó 12-inch gold-plated copper disks ó containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life on Earth. They include 115 analog-encoded photographs, spoken greetings from Earth-people in 55 languages, a 12-minute montage of a variety of natural sounds ó such as those made by surf,...
  • NASA confirms the discovery of a rocky exoplanet just 21 light years away

    07/31/2015 4:43:42 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 17 replies
    The Verge ^ | July 30, 2015 | Sean O'Kane
    Earth just got a new next-door neighbor.Astronomers have found the closest rocky planet outside our solar system using the Spitzer Space telescope. The planet, known as HD 219134b, orbits a star just 21 light years away, and NASA is calling a "potential gold mine of science data." The planet is probably a bad place for life as we know it: itís 1.6 times the size of Earth and more than four times the mass. Plus its three-day orbit is too close to its host star for liquid water to form, even though the star is cooler and smaller than our...
  • Astronomers find star with three super-Earths

    07/31/2015 10:02:33 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 29 replies
    phys.org ^ | July 30, 2015 | Staff
    This artist's rendition released by NASA on July 30, 2015 shows one possible appearance for the planet HD 219134b ======================================================================================================================== Astronomers said Thursday they had found a planetary system with three super-Earths orbiting a bright, dwarf staróone of them likely a volcanic world of molten rock. The four-planet system had been hiding out in the M-shaped, northern hemisphere constellation Cassiopeia, "just" 21 light years from Earth, a team reported in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. It comprises four planetsóone giant and three super-Earths orbiting a star dubbed HD219134. Super-Earths have a mass higher than Earth's but are lighter than gas...
  • What About a Mission to Europa?

    07/27/2015 11:59:52 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 23 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 27, 2015 | Fraser Cain
    Jupiterís moon Europa has the most water in the entire Solar System. If you took all the water on Earth, collected it into a big sphere, it would measure almost 1,400 kilometers across. Europaís water would measure nearly 1,800 kilometers.All that water exists in a layer around Europa, encased in a layer of ice. ... According to the plan, a spacecraft will launch in the 2020s, carrying 9 instruments to Europa. Most will be familiar cameras, mass spectrometers, and the like, to study the surface of Europa to a high level of resolution. Over the course of 45 flybys, the...
  • NASAís Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth

    07/23/2015 10:17:08 AM PDT · by Eurotwit · 42 replies
    NASA ^ | July 23, 2015 | NASA
    NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the ďhabitable zoneĒ around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another ďEarth.Ē The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone -- the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet -- of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030. "On the 20th anniversary...
  • Breaking: Discovery of ĎHabitableí Earth-Like Planet Announced

    07/23/2015 11:38:14 AM PDT · by ckilmer · 80 replies
    observer.com ^ | 07/23/15 12:20pm | Robin Seemangal
    Breaking: Discovery of ‚ÄėHabitable‚Äô Earth-Like Planet Announced The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute and planet hunters from The National Aeronautics and Space Administration have made a startling discovery while exploring the Milky Way Galaxy By Robin Seemangal | 07/23/15 12:20pm¬† Comment Artist‚Äôs concept depicts the earth-like planet Kepler-452b (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle) The SETI Institute and NASA have confirmed the discovery of Kepler 452b, the most Earth-like planet ever encountered. Located in the Goldilocks zone of its host star, this planet would have ‚Äújust the right‚ÄĚ conditions to support liquid water and possibly even life. This extraordinary world was spotted by...
  • Astronomers Spot a Intriguing Ď5-Starí Multiple System

    07/23/2015 10:54:10 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 12 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 23, 2015 | David Dickinson
    An interesting multiple star discovery turned up in the ongoing hunt for exoplanetary systems. The discovery was announced by Marcus Lohr of Open University early this month at the National Astronomy Meeting that was held at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Wales. The discovery involves as many as five stars in a single stellar system, orbiting in a complex configuration. The name of the system, 1SWASP J093010.78+533859.5, is a phone number-style designation related to the SuperWASP exoplanet hunting transit survey involved with the discovery. The lengthy numerical designation denotes the systemís position in the sky in right ascension and declination in...
  • Stephen Hawking announces $100 million hunt for alien life

    07/20/2015 5:36:42 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 50 replies
    The Washington Post's Speaking of Science ^ | July 20, 2015 | Rachel Feltman
    On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen. "We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth," Hawking said at Monday's news conference, "So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life." Geoffrey Marcy, a University of California, Berkeley, astronomer who found most of our first exoplanets, also spoke at the event as part of the group's brain trust....
  • A $100 Million Infusion for SETI Research (two parts: Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough MESSAGE)

    07/20/2015 5:02:44 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 13 replies
    Centauri Dreams ^ | 7/20/15 | Paul Gilster
    A $100 Million Infusion for SETI Researchby Paul Gilster on July 20, 2015 SETI received a much needed boost this morning as Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, along with physicist Stephen Hawking and a panel including Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Martin Rees and Geoff Marcy announced a $100 million pair of initiatives to reinvigorate the search. The first of these, Breakthrough Listen, dramatically upgrades existing search methods, while Breakthrough Message will fund an international competition to create the kind of messages we might one day send to other stars, although the intention is also to provoke the necessary discussion and debate...
  • Search for extraterrestrial intelligence gets a $100-million boost

    07/20/2015 3:24:26 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 23 replies
    Nature ^ | 7/20/15 | Zeeya Merali
    Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announces most comprehensive hunt for alien life.You could say that the silence has been deafening. Since its beginnings more than half a century ago, the dedicated search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has failed to detect the presence of alien civilizations. But at Londonís Royal Society today (20 July), Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a shot in the arm for SETI: a US$100-million decadal project to provide the most comprehensive hunt for alien communications so far. The initiative, called Breakthrough Listen, will see radio telescopes at Green Bank in West Virginia, the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and...
  • Russian Entrepreneur Pledges $100 Million in Search for Extraterrestrial Life

    07/20/2015 3:15:30 PM PDT · by lbryce · 12 replies
    .Entrepreneur ^ | July 20, 2015 | Nina Zipkin
    Is there anyone else out there in the universe? The endeavor to answer that eternal question got a serious shot in the arm this week thanks to Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner. At the Royal Society in London, the billionaire announced the launch of Breakthrough Listen, a 10-year, $100 million initiative to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. Related: The Power of Planning: NASA's Pluto Flyby Was Epic and Amazing Aided by the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in W. Va., the CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia and the Lick Telescope in at the Lick Observatory in...
  • Jupiter twin discovered around solar twin

    07/15/2015 1:51:26 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 8 replies
    Phys. Org ^ | 07-15-15 | Provided by: ESO
    Artist's impression showing a newly discovered Jupiter twin gas giant orbiting the solar twin star, HIP 11915. The planet is of a very similar mass to Jupiter and orbits at the same distance from its star as Jupiter does from the Sun. This, together with HIP 11915's Sun-like composition, hints at the possibility of the system of planets orbiting HIP 11915 bearing a resemblance to our own Solar System, with smaller rocky planets orbiting closer to the host star. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser ============================================================================================ Astronomers have used the ESO 3.6-metre telescope to identify a planet just like Jupiter orbiting at the...
  • Is Kapteyn B Not to Be? [Exo-planet oops]

    07/07/2015 6:28:18 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 7, 2015 | David Dickinson
    In 2014, we reported on an exciting new discovery of two new exoplanets orbiting Kapteynís Star. The current number of exoplanet discoveries as of July 2015 sits at 1,932 and counting. An M-class red dwarf, Kapteynís Star is relatively nearby at only 13 light years distant. The planetary discovery consisted of a world five times the mass of the Earth in a 48 day orbit (Kapteyn b), and a world seven times the mass of the Earth in a 122 day orbit (Kapteyn c). The discovery was hailed as an example of an ancientópossibly over 11 billion years oldósystem with...
  • NASA's Latest Pluto Images Actually Show a Planet

    07/06/2015 6:50:08 PM PDT · by lbryce · 51 replies
    Endgadget ^ | July 6, 2015 | John fingas
    At last, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is sending back images of Pluto that look (slightly) better than brown blobs or pixel art. The probe has delivered a new batch of images from between 7.8 million to 9.2 million miles away, or close enough that the dwarf planet is starting to reveal some meaningful detail. There's still no explanation for those giant spots, but it's evident that there's a "continuous swath" of dark ground near the equator. And if you'd like pictures that are better than fuzzy, you might not have to hold out for too much longer. New Horizons...
  • Alien Life On Philae Comet, Scientists Say

    07/06/2015 5:10:49 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 59 replies
    Sky News ^ | July 6, 2015
    Experts discover dark material is being constantly replenished and say: "Something must be doing that at a fairly prolific rate."Evidence of alien life is "unequivocal" on the comet carrying the Philae probe through space, two leading astronomers have said. The experts say the most likely explanation for certain features of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, such as its organic-rich black crust, is the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface. Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange "clusters" of organic material that resemble viral particles. But neither Rosetta nor its lander probe, Philae,...
  • Alien rights-When we meet, it wonít 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 wasnít the Martiansí fault their planet died. If they existed Ė once Ė 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 wasnít 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: Marsís 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 Plutoís 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. ... ďWe are still baffled by how the system formed,Ē says study co-author Mark Showalter, a senior research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. ďI think everyone believes that, at some point in the distant past, a large object bashed into Ďproto-Plutoí and the moons formed out of the debris cloud. However, after that point in the story, details get very sketchy.Ē 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 NASAís 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 ó 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 arenít able to detect the light from these planets due to their extreme distance from observational equipment. But VHS J1256bóa gas giant located 40 light-years from Earthóis 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 thatís hurling itself across its galaxy at breakneck speeds. But stars arenít 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 itís 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 Ďsupervoidí, 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 thatís 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 Earthónamely, 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 Ė at least the ones big enough for us to see Ė 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, weíd be what NASA once described as a ďlifeless ball of ice-coated rock.Ē Luckily, we are far enough from it, and as of right now, itís not radiating so much light as to make our planet uninhabitable. In some ways, weíre in the sweet spot, and researchers may have discovered many more such connections. Stars in the Milky Way may have 100 billion planets ó two, on average, per star ó 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 ďseedĒ 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 stormóthe 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 ó nicknamed ďScholzís starĒ ó 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, Scholzís star is fleeing the scene of a collision with us. ďMost stars this nearby show much larger tangential motion,Ē said Eric Mamajek, of the University of Rochester. ďThe 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 ¬ďYes¬Ē 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 Weíve 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 Ė on the anniversary of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaughís birth Ė the spacecraft has sent back its first new images of the Pluto system. The images arenít 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. ďPluto is finally becoming more than just a pinpoint of light,Ē 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...