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Keyword: xplanets

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  • Astronomers find giant planet around very young star

    05/26/2016 10:05:19 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 12 replies
    phys.org ^ | May 26, 2016 | Provided by: Rice University
    Astronomers used the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at the University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, to search for a planet around star CI Tau. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography ================================================================================================== In contradiction to the long-standing idea that larger planets take longer to form, U.S. astronomers today announced the discovery of a giant planet in close orbit around a star so young that it still retains a disk of circumstellar gas and dust. "For decades, conventional wisdom held that large Jupiter-mass planets take a minimum of 10 million years to form," said Christopher Johns-Krull, the lead author...
  • 'Alien Megastructure' Star Only Gets More Mysterious

    05/22/2016 6:39:00 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 52 replies
    Popular Science ^ | May 10, 2016 | Sarah Fecht
    Every now and then, a distant star called KIC 8462852 dims by as much as 20 percent. That's huge. Even a passing planet as big as Jupiter would only block about 1 percent of the star's light. Ruling out a planet, scientists have no idea what could be eclipsing the star (which is informally known as 'Tabby's Star'). The leading hypothesis is a family of really big comets, but that doesn't quite fit. Astronomer Jason Wright pointed out that the light patterns are consistent with what we'd expect if aliens had built a Dyson swarm of solar collectors around the...
  • Humans on Mars: Scouting Needed for Red Planet Resources

    05/17/2016 6:27:21 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 48 replies
    Space.com ^ | 05/16/2016 | Leonard David,
    Last year, scientists proposed nearly 50 locations on Mars as possible places for future human landings. Those landing-zone sites contain "regions of interest" that can be reached from primary touchdown spots. Good touchdown sites will allow crews to land safely and carry out operations; offer a wealth of interesting science activities; and provide resources that the astronauts could use. For example, any favored exploration zone should allow expeditionary crews to tap into at least 100 metric tons (110 U.S. tons) of water, NASA officials have said. With its suite of instruments and cameras — particularly the sharp-shooting High Resolution Imaging...
  • Why dying stars may be a good place to look for alien life

    05/16/2016 3:15:46 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    washingtonpost.com ^ | May 16 at 12:53 PM | By Sarah Kaplan
    In a paper published Monday in the Astrophysical Journal, Kaltenegger, who is director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, and her colleague Ramses Ramirez modeled the conditions under which life could exist around stars that are close to using up their fuel — ones much older and bigger than our sun. "We can find all these new places that may become habitable worlds," Kaltenegger said, in the dim, red glow of a slow-burning dwarf star, or on once-frozen planets thawed by a rapidly expanding red giant. Nearly two dozen such potentially life-sustaining suns exist right in our own...
  • Mysterious Martian "Cauliflower" May Be the Latest Hint of Alien Life

    02/05/2016 1:23:16 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    smithsonianmag.com ^ | 02/01/2016 | Sarah Scoles
    The hunt for signs of life on Mars has been on for decades, and so far scientists have found only barren dirt and rocks. Now a pair of astronomers thinks that strangely shaped minerals inside a Martian crater could be the clue everyone has been waiting for. In 2008, scientists announced that NASA's Spirit rover had discovered deposits of a mineral called opaline silica inside Mars's Gusev crater. That on its own is not as noteworthy as the silica's shape: Its outer layers are covered in tiny nodules that look like heads of cauliflower sprouting from the red dirt. No...
  • Kepler detects nearly 1,300 more planets orbiting distant stars

    05/14/2016 9:10:33 PM PDT · by NormsRevenge · 11 replies
    SFGate.com ^ | 5/11/16 | David Perlman
    Astronomers monitoring the Kepler space telescope have detected nearly 1,300 planets flying in orbit around distant stars, a cosmic search that began nearly 10 years ago inside a rusty old telescope dome at the Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton near San Jose. From the size and orbits of the new-found “exoplanets,” the astronomers said at least 550 could be rocky planets much like Earth, and at least nine are orbiting at just the right distance from their stars to lie inside their “habitable zones” where temperatures would be just right for liquid water, the one ingredient essential for life to...
  • New study supports natural causes, not alien activity, explain mystery star's behavior

    05/09/2016 8:56:03 PM PDT · by rdl6989 · 16 replies
    phys.org ^ | May 9, 2016 | David Salisbury
    Sorry, E.T. lovers, but the results of a new study make it far less likely that KIC 8462852, popularly known as Tabby's star, is the home of industrious aliens who are gradually enclosing it in a vast shell called a Dyson sphere. Public interest in the star, which sits about 1,480 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, began last fall when Yale astronomer Tabetha ("Tabby") Boyajian and colleagues posted a paper on an astronomy preprint server reporting that "planet hunters" - a citizen science group formed to search data from the Kepler space telescope for evidence of exoplanets - had...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Three Worlds for TRAPPIST-1

    05/07/2016 5:39:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, May 07, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Three new found worlds orbit the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, a mere 40 light-years away. Their transits were first detected by the Belgian robotic TRAnsiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, TRAPPIST, at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The newly discovered exoplanets are all similar in size to Earth. Because they orbit very close to their faint, tiny star they could also have regions where surface temperatures allow for the presence of liquid water, a key ingredient for life. Their tantalizing proximity to Earth makes them prime candidates for future telescopic explorations of the atmospheres of these potentially habitable...
  • New Horizons sets sights on its next target, a mysterious object at solar system's edge

    05/06/2016 6:37:23 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    Known as 2014 MU69, the object is thought to be unchanged since the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.... ... Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel submitted plans last month to NASA to fly past the relatively tiny chunk of icy matter on New Year's Day 2019. If NASA approves it, the extended New Horizon mission could give a close-up view of what has so far only appeared to scientists as a faint dot of light. ... The object is in a 300-year orbit around the sun in the Kuiper Belt, a region of space beyond...
  • Scientists discover three 'potentially habitable' planets

    05/02/2016 10:19:44 AM PDT · by Phlap · 40 replies
    Yahoo ^ | 05/02/2016 | Marlowe Hood
    An international team of scientists said Monday they had discovered a trio of Earth-like planets that are the best bet so far for finding life outside our solar system. The three orbit an ultracool dwarf star a mere 39 light years away, and are likely comparable in size and temperature to Earth and Venus, they reported in a study, published in Nature.
  • Pluto's 'Little Sister' Makemake Has a Moon

    04/27/2016 6:41:16 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 21 replies
    discover.com ^ | Irene Klotz
    Astronomers will now try to learn more about the moon’s orbit so they can calculate a mass for the system and learn more about how it formed. “The discovery … has given us an opportunity to study Makemake in far greater detail than we ever would have been able to without the companion,” Parker said. Preliminary estimates indicate that if the moon is in a circular orbit, it completes a circuit around Makemake in 12 days or longer.
  • Earth-like planet may exist in a nearby star system

    04/21/2016 10:25:04 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 25 replies
    phys.org ^ | April 19, 2016 | Tomasz Nowakowsk
    Artistic representation of the potentially habitable super-Earth Gliese 832c against a stellar nebula background. Credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo, NASA Hubble, Stellarium. ========================================================================================================== An Earth-like planet may be lurking in a star system located just 16 light years away, according to a new research. The star, named Gliese 832, was recently investigated by a team of astronomers searching for additional exoplanets that may be residing between the two currently known alien worlds in this system. A paper detailing the finding was published online on Apr. 15 in the arXiv journal. Gliese 832 is a red dwarf and has just under...
  • Never-before-seen galaxy spotted orbiting the Milky Way

    04/15/2016 7:44:48 AM PDT · by MtnClimber · 21 replies
    New Scientist ^ | 14 Apr, 2016 | Ken Croswell
    The galaxy’s empire has a new colony. Astronomers have detected a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way whose span stretches farther than nearly all other Milky Way satellites. It may belong to a small group of galaxies that is falling into our own. Giant galaxies like the Milky Way grew large when smaller galaxies merged, according to simulations. The simulations also suggest that whole groups of galaxies can fall into a single giant at the same time. The best examples in our cosmic neighbourhood are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Milky Way’s two brightest satellites, which probably orbit...
  • NASA reports Cassini spacecraft orbit unaffected by theorized undiscovered Planet 9

    04/10/2016 8:30:14 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    clarksvilleonline.com ^ | 04/10/2016 | Preston Dyches
    Contrary to recent reports, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is not experiencing unexplained deviations in its orbit around Saturn, according to mission managers and orbit determination experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Several recent news stories have reported that a mysterious anomaly in Cassini’s orbit could potentially be explained by the gravitational tug of a theorized massive new planet in our solar system, lurking far beyond the orbit of Neptune.
  • Planet Nine's profile fleshed out

    04/09/2016 7:29:13 PM PDT · by JimSEA · 52 replies
    BBC ^ | 4/8/2916 | Paul Rincon
    In January, researchers at Caltech in the US suggested a large, additional planet might be lurking in the icy outer reaches of the Solar System. Now, a team at the University of Bern in Switzerland has worked out what they say are upper and lower limits on how big, bright and cold it might be. The study has been accepted by the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. Prof Mike Brown and Dr Konstantin Batygin made their case for the existence of a ninth planet in our Solar System orbiting far beyond even the dwarf world Pluto. There are no direct observations...
  • Houston We've Got A Problem: NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler Spacecraft Is In Emergency Mode

    04/09/2016 7:40:09 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 25 replies
    TechTimes ^ | 4/9/16 | Catherine Cabral-Isabedra
    Kepler spacecraft is in emergency mode, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a statement. Charlie Sobeck, Kepler and K2 mission manager at NASA's Ames Research Center announced that after a scheduled contact with mission operations engineers last April 7, it was discovered that Kepler is presently in emergency mode (EM), the spacecraft's lowest operational mode. The team is working on recovering from EM, as it consumes significant amount of fuel. Since the spacecraft is 75 million miles away from Earth, even with the speed of light, communication takes about 13 minutes for the message to travel from the...
  • Newly discovered planet could destroy Earth any day now

    04/06/2016 10:01:06 PM PDT · by LucyT · 247 replies
    NYPost ^ | April 6, 2016 | TheSun
    A mysterious planet that wiped out life on Earth millions of years ago could do it again, according to a top space scientist. And some believe the apocalyptic event could happen as early as this month. Planet Nine — a new planet discovered at the edge of the solar system in January — has triggered comet showers that bomb the Earth’s surface, killing all life, says Daniel Whitmire, of the University of Louisiana. The astrophysicist says the planet has a 20,000-year orbit around the sun and, at its closest to us, it knocks asteroids and comets toward Earth. Fossil evidence...
  • Mysterious planet wiped out life on Earth once and could do it again THIS MONTH

    04/06/2016 8:04:16 PM PDT · by wastedyears · 79 replies
    The Scottish Sun ^ | 4/6/2016 | Alison Maloney
    http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/7054203/Mysterious-planet-wiped-out-life-on-Earth-once-and-could-do-it-again-THIS-MONTH.html?redirect=true
  • Researcher links mass extinctions to 'Planet X'

    04/02/2016 2:43:56 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 40 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | March 30, 2016 | Bob Whitby
    Periodic mass extinctions on Earth, as indicated in the global fossil record, could be linked to a suspected ninth planet, according to research published by a faculty member of the University of Arkansas Department of Mathematical Sciences. Daniel Whitmire, a retired professor of astrophysics now working as a math instructor, published findings in the January issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that the as yet undiscovered "Planet X" triggers comet showers linked to mass extinctions on Earth at intervals of approximately 27 million years. Though scientists have been looking for Planet X for 100 years, the possibility...
  • Planet with triple-star system found

    04/01/2016 1:19:58 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 31 replies
    phys.org ^ | 04-01-2016 | Bob Yirka & Astronomical Journal
    This artist's concept of HD 1885 Ab, the first known planet to reside in a triple-star system, would have a similar sunset to KELT-4Ab. Both systems host a pair of stars distantly orbiting the planet-hosting single sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech ===================================================================================================================== A team of researchers working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has announced the finding of a triple-star system—one that also as has a stable orbit planet in it. In their paper published in The Astronomical Journal, the team describes how they came to see that a binary system once thought to be a single star, was actually a pair...
  • Scientists just found more evidence that Planet Nine exists in our Solar System

    03/29/2016 8:09:38 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 48 replies
    http://www.sciencealert.com ^ | 29 MAR 2016 | Bec Crew
    And this new planet could be huge. Back in January, the astronomer who led the charge to have Pluto demoted to dwarf planet status announced that he’d just found evidence that a huge, icy planet could be lurking on the edge of the Solar System, just past Neptune. Mike Brown, a planetary astronomer at Caltech University, estimated that the hypothetical 'Planet Nine' appears to be circling the Sun on a super-elongated orbit that takes an incredible 10,000 to 20,000 years to complete. And now, thanks to a newly detected Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) that’s acting really strange, Brown says the...
  • Planets Sometimes Blow Their Tops

    03/23/2016 8:06:54 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 12 replies
    Colorado Public Radio-News ^ | 22 Mar, 2016 | Adam Frank
    Atmospheres, like love, often don't last forever. That's the lesson we astronomers are learning (well, at least, the atmosphere part), as we push outward with our telescopes into a galaxy rich with planets. It's not an insignificant point, since the fate of atmospheres holds the key to science's most enduring question: Are we alone in the universe? Last Monday, I spent the day at Penn State working with James Kasting on how planets can lose their atmospheres into space. Kasting is a great scientist who has spent much of his career exploring what allows a planet to become habitable. In...
  • Ice volcanoes spotted on Pluto, suggest internal heat source

    03/18/2016 11:32:38 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 41 replies
    Science.com ^ | 9 Nov, 2015 | Eric Hand
    NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND—Researchers on NASA’s New Horizons mission have discovered evidence on Pluto for what appears to be two cryovolcanoes—volcanoes built out of frozen ice that once oozed molten ice from the inside of the dwarf planet. The discovery points to an internal heat source that, at some point in Pluto’s past, drove the melting of interior reservoirs of volatile ices, such as nitrogen and methane, that then erupted at the surface. It also suggests that the cryovolcanoes were a way for Pluto to periodically rejuvenate surface supplies of these volatile ices, which sublimate into the thin atmosphere and are...
  • Climate variations analyzed five million years back in time

    03/16/2016 3:59:25 PM PDT · by sparklite2 · 37 replies
    Science Daily ^ | March 16, 2016
    "You can look at the climate as fractals, that is, patterns or structures that repeat in smaller and smaller versions indefinitely. If you are talking about 100-year storms, are there then 100 years between them? -- Or do you suddenly find that there are three such storms over a short timespan? If you are talking about very hot summers, do they happen every tenth year or every fifth year? How large are the normal variations? -- We have now investigated this," explains Peter Ditlevsen, Associate Professor of Climate Physics at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen. The...
  • 'Jupiter swallowed planet 10 times the size of Earth'

    08/13/2010 12:01:53 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 36 replies · 1+ views
    Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system, might have gained its dominant position after swallowing up a smaller planet, scientists believe. Studies on Jupiter have revealed that the giant planet, which is more than 120 times bigger than the Earth, has an extremely small core that weighs just two to 10 Earth masses. Now scientists have claimed that Jupiter's core might have been vaporised in huge collision with a planet up to ten times the size of Earth, the New Scientist reported. Researchers led by by Shu Lin Li of Peking University in China have modelled what might have...
  • Asteroid Belt Loaded with Former Comets

    07/16/2009 7:32:16 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies · 1,536+ views
    Discovery ^ | Thursday, July 16, 2009 | AFP
    Many of the primitive bodies wandering the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter are former comets, tossed out of orbit by a brutal ballet between the giant outer planets, said a team of astrophysicists. A commonly accepted theory is that the asteroid belt is the rubble left over from a "proto-planetary disk," the dense ring of gas that surrounds a new-born star. But the orbiting rocks have long been a source of deep curiosity. They are remarkably varied, ranging from mixtures of ice and rock to igneous rocks, which implies they have jumbled origins. The answer to the mystery, according...
  • Were Mercury and Mars separated at birth?

    01/19/2009 3:32:30 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies · 542+ views
    New Scientist ^ | Monday, January 19, 2009 | unattributed
    Line up Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars according to their distance from the sun and you'll see their size distribution is close to symmetrical, with the two largest planets between the two smallest. That would be no coincidence -- if the pattern emerged from a debris ring around the sun. Brad Hansen of the University of California, Los Angeles, built a numerical simulation to explore how a ring of rocky material in the early solar system could have evolved into the planets. He found that two larger planets typically form near the inner and outer edges of the ring, corresponding...
  • Search Narrows For Planet Nine

    02/25/2016 8:57:45 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 32 replies
    Universe Today ^ | 2/25/16 | Bob King
    Based on a careful study of Saturn's orbit and using mathematical models, French scientists were able to whittle down the search region for Planet Nine to "possible" and "probable" zones. Source: CNRS, Cote d'Azur and Paris observatories. Created by the author Astronomy, Cassini, Planet News, Solar SystemSearch Narrows For Planet Nine 25 Feb , 2016 by Bob King An imagined view from Planet Nine looking back toward the Sun. Astronomers think the massive, distant planet is gaseous, similar to the other giant planets in our Solar System. Credit: Wikipedia Last month, planetary scientists Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin of...
  • Copernicus and the made-up planets: simulating other earths

    02/24/2016 1:10:36 PM PST · by sparklite2 · 3 replies
    Astrobites ^ | Feb 24, 2016 | Zephyr Penoyre
    Unluckily the universe turns out to be incredibly complicated. The sheer amount of stuff in it is mind-boggling. Do you know how many stars there are in a galaxy? You're probably thinking of a large number, like 107, but there are way more than that! There are more stars in the galaxy than grains of sand in a small handful of sand. The combined weight of gasses swirling about the milky way is so much greater than that of a large dog as to make the comparison seem unhelpful and arbitrary. The universe is actually much larger than Canada. The...
  • The truth about exoplanets

    02/23/2016 8:24:35 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 13 replies
    Nature ^ | 17 Feb, 2016 | Jeff Hecht
    Astronomers are beginning to glimpse what exoplanets orbiting distant suns are actually like. The trickle of discoveries has become a torrent. Little more than two decades after the first planets were found orbiting other stars, improved instruments on the ground and in space have sent the count soaring: it is now past 2,000. The finds include 'hot Jupiters', 'super-Earths' and other bodies with no counterpart in our Solar System - and have forced astronomers to radically rethink their theories of how planetary systems form and evolve. Yet discovery is just the beginning. Astronomers are aggressively moving into a crucial phase...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Where Your Shadow Has Company

    02/20/2016 12:49:20 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | February 20, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Want to take a relaxing interstellar vacation? Consider visiting Kepler-16b, a world in a binary star system. In fact Kepler-16b is the first discovered circumbinary planet. It was detected in a wide 229 day orbit around a close pair of cool, low-mass stars some 200 light-years away. The parent stars eclipse one another in their orbits, observed as a dimming of starlight. But Kepler-16b itself was discovered by following the additional very slight dimming produced during its transits. Like sci-fi planet Tatooine of Star Wars fame, two suns would set over its horizon. Still, Kepler 16b is probably not...
  • Exoplanet Census Suggests Earth Is Special after All

    02/20/2016 12:04:01 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 6 replies
    Scientific American ^ | 2/19/16 | Shannon Hall
    Exoplanet Census Suggests Earth Is Special after All A new tally proposes that roughly 700 quintillion terrestrial exoplanets are likely to exist across the observable universe--most vastly different from Earth By Shannon Hall on February 19, 2016 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Email Print Share via Google+Stumble Upon NASA/ESA/ESO Advertisement More than 400 years ago Renaissance scientist Nicolaus Copernicus reduced us to near nothingness by showing that our planet is not the center of the solar system. With every subsequent scientific revolution, most other privileged positions in the universe humans might have held dear have been...
  • Planet you've probably never heard of

    02/21/2015 5:39:50 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 66 replies
    cnn.com ^ | 8:56 PM ET, Fri February 20, 2015 | Amanda Barnett, CNN
    (CNN)Way out beyond Mars, but before you get to Jupiter, is a planet. You read that right. There's a planet between Mars and Jupiter. You may not have heard of it, but it was discovered in 1801 -- 129 years before Pluto. It originally was called a planet, then later an asteroid and now it's called a dwarf planeIts name is Ceres (pronounced like series) and you'll likely be hearing a lot more about it in the coming weeks.
  • NASA's Mars Rover Found Mysterious Growths On Mars That Could Be The Biggest Discovery In Science

    02/05/2016 12:46:49 AM PST · by blam · 42 replies
    BI ^ | 2-5-2016
    NASA's Spirit Mars Rover Found Mysterious Growths On Mars That Could Be The Biggest Discovery In Science Jennifer Deal February 5, 2016 Four billion years ago, Mars looked a lot like Earth does today. So it's not surprising that a team of scientists believe that they may have discovered the first signs of ancient alien life on the planet.(click to the site to see the video)
  • New study zeros in on plate tectonics' start date

    01/25/2016 10:35:42 AM PST · by JimSEA · 28 replies
    Science Daily ^ | 1/21/2016 | University of Maryland
    Earth has some special features that set it apart from its close cousins in the solar system, including large oceans of liquid water and a rich atmosphere with just the right ingredients to support life as we know it. Earth is also the only planet that has an active outer layer made of large tectonic plates that grind together and dip beneath each other, giving rise to mountains, volcanoes, earthquakes and large continents of land. Geologists have long debated when these processes, collectively known as plate tectonics, first got underway. Some scientists propose that the process began as early as...
  • Wild new theory says Earth may actually be two different planets

    02/04/2016 10:21:30 AM PST · by Smittie · 64 replies
    BGR News ^ | 02/03/2016 | Chris Smith
    A new theory says Earth is made of two planets, rather than just one. Apparently, our planet is the result of a collision that helped map the course of both Earth as we know it and the moon. According to new research from the University of California, Earth and a hypothesized early planet called Theia collided, and the two planets fused together 4.5 billion years ago. That impact also formed our moon, Science Alert explains. The initial working theory was that the Earth and Theia only side-swiped each other, sending the moon into orbit and then flying away into space....
  • Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life

    02/03/2016 7:23:06 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 19 replies
    Quanta Magazine ^ | 2/2/16 | Natalie Wolchover
    Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life Searching for signs of life on faraway planets, astrobiologists must decide which telltale biosignature gases to target. Photo illustration by Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine February 2, 2016 Comments (5) Share this: facebooktwitterredditmail PDF Print Huddled in a coffee shop one drizzly Seattle morning six years ago, the astrobiologist Shawn Domagal-Goldman stared blankly at his laptop screen, paralyzed. He had been running a simulation of an evolving planet, when suddenly oxygen started accumulating in the virtual planet’s atmosphere. Up the concentration ticked, from 0 to 5 to 10 percent.“Is something wrong?” his wife asked.“Yeah.”The rise of...
  • The Many Mysteries of Uranus

    02/02/2016 11:09:42 PM PST · by Timpanagos1 · 39 replies
    The Atlantic ^ | 2/2/16 | DAVID MOSCATO
    The best planet in our solar system is not, as Adrienne LaFrance claimed several months ago, Jupiter. Nor is it Saturn, as Ross Andersen argued in a rebuttal last month. I teach science for a living, which means I have a hard time allowing misinformation to pass by uncorrected—and after reading those articles, I knew I had to step in before any more intellectual damage was done. The best planet is Uranus—Uranus the bizarre. Uranus the unique.
  • The Fermi Paradox Is Not Fermi's, and It Is Not a Paradox

    02/02/2016 1:30:21 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 81 replies
    Scientific American ^ | 1/29/16 | Robert H. Gray
    Two big ideas often come up in discussions about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI. One is the Drake Equation, which estimates the number of civilizations in our Galaxy whose signals we might be able to detect--potentially thousands, according to plausible estimates. The other is the so-called Fermi paradox, which claims that we should see intelligent aliens here if they exist anywhere, because they would inevitably colonize the Galaxy by star travel--and since we don't see any obvious signs of aliens here, searching for their signals is pointless. The Drake Equation is perfectly genuine: it was created by astronomer...
  • ...Antarctic fungi survives Martian conditions...strapped outside the space station for 18 months

    01/28/2016 6:28:56 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    daily mail uk ^ | 01/25/2016 | cheyenne macdonald
    After a year-and-a-half long voyage aboard the International Space Station, a group of fungi collected from Antarctica has proven its ability to withstand harsh, Mars-like conditions. More than half of the cells remained intact over the course of the 18-month study, providing new insight for the possibility of life on Mars. These fungal samples, along with lichens from Spain and Austria, have allowed European researchers to assess the survivability and stability of microscopic lifeforms on the red planet. The tiny fungi taken from Antarctica are typically found in the cracks of rocks in this dry, hostile region. Scientists took samples...
  • Don't Blame 'Planet Nine' for Earth's Mass Extinctions

    01/26/2016 8:03:21 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 24 replies
    space.com ^ | 01/25/2016 | mike wall
    Planet Nine - a newly proposed but not yet confirmed world perhaps 10 times more massive than Earth that's thought to orbit far beyond Pluto — probably could not have triggered such "death from the skies" events, researchers said. Planet Nine likely has an elliptical orbit, coming within 200 to 300 astronomical units (AU) of the sun at its closest approach and getting as far away as 600 to 1,200 AU, Brown said. (One AU is the distance from Earth to the sun - about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers). Neptune orbits about 30 AU from the sun,...
  • Study: Maybe we can’t find aliens because they’ve all died already

    01/22/2016 12:32:08 PM PST · by Trumpinator · 85 replies
    washingtonpost.com ^ | January 22 at 12:27 PM | Rachel Feltman
    Study: Maybe we can’t find aliens because they’ve all died already By Rachel Feltman January 22 at 12:27 PM he hunt for extraterrestrial life is one of humanity's most exciting endeavors. The pieces are all falling into place: We're finding more and more planets outside of our own solar system, and soon the James Webb Telescope will give us unprecedented looks at these distant worlds. We've populated Mars with robots looking for signs of ancient habitability. Orbiters dive through the icy geysers of ocean-covered moons in hopes of catching some life-giving minerals. Our radio telescopes are tuned in to mysterious...
  • Researchers find evidence of a real ninth planet

    01/20/2016 7:52:49 PM PST · by Utilizer · 31 replies
    Phys.org ^ | January 20, 2016 | Kimm Fesenmaier
    Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling...
  • There's a ninth planet in our solar system - we just can't see it yet, study says

    01/20/2016 1:43:51 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 39 replies
    l a times ^ | 01/20/2016 | amina khan
    Scientists have been wondering whether a "Planet X" exists in the dim regions far beyond the known planets, but it has remained largely speculative.... That started to change in March 2014, when a pair of astronomers announced that they’d discovered a brand-new dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, beyond the well-populated edge of the Kuiper belt, whose main mass stretches from Neptune’s orbit around 30 astronomical units (or 30 times the Earth-Sun distance) out to 50 astronomical units. It wasn’t the only such object: Sedna, a 600-mile-wide rock discovered in 2003, also boasted this far-out orbit, and it seemed to be making...
  • Ninth Planet May Exist in Solar System Beyond Pluto, New Evidence Suggests

    01/20/2016 12:01:57 PM PST · by presidio9 · 50 replies
    The New York Times ^ | JAN. 20, 2016 | KENNETH CHANG
    There might be a ninth planet in the solar system after all - and it is not Pluto. Two astronomers reported on Wednesday that they had compelling signs of something bigger and farther away — something that would definitely satisfy the current definition of a planet, where Pluto falls short. "We are pretty sure there's one out there," said Michael E. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology. What Dr. Brown and a fellow Caltech professor, Konstantin Batygin, have not done is actually find that planet, so it would be premature to revise mnemonics of...
  • Moon Village Is International Space Station Successor, Stepping Stone To Mars: ESA Head

    01/18/2016 8:28:52 PM PST · by Jack Hydrazine · 31 replies
    Tech Times ^ | 16JAN2016 | Katherine Derla
    European Space Agency's head Jan Woerner released the vision outline for the Moon Village, which could replace the International Space Station as early as 2030. The lunar village will be composed of structures created by 3D printers and robots using Moon dusts as raw materials. Woerner became the ESA head in July 2015 and made the Moon mission the space agency's central project. Woerner added that this lunar project is a crucial step towards the future flight to Mars. "I looked into the requirements I see for a project after ISS. As of today, I see the Moon Village as...
  • Dimming star remains mystery, but it's likely not caused by comets

    01/16/2016 5:52:31 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    cnn ^ | jareen imam
    Theories surrounding the star system KIC 8462852, also known as Tabby's Star, ranged from comets to an "alien megastructure" after the online astronomy crowdsourcing site Planet Hunter discovered an unusual light fluctuation in the star system a few years ago. A new analysis of KIC 8462852 shows that the star system, which lies about 1,500 light years away, has been gradually dimming for more than a century, and it's likely not caused by a cloud of orbiting comets. Bradley Schaefer, a physics and astronomy professor at Louisiana State University, examined data from a Harvard University archive of digitally scanned photographic...
  • How fast is the earth moving?

    01/09/2016 6:12:50 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 65 replies
    Scientific American ^ | 26 Oct, 1998 | Rhett Herman
    Consider the movement of the earth's surface with respect to the planet's center. The earth rotates once every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.09053 seconds, called the sidereal period, and its circumference is roughly 40,075 kilometers. Thus, the surface of the earth at the equator moves at a speed of 460 meters per second-or roughly 1,000 miles per hour. As schoolchildren, we learn that the earth is moving about our sun in a very nearly circular orbit. It covers this route at a speed of nearly 30 kilometers per second, or 67,000 miles per hour. In addition, our solar system--Earth...
  • “X” Marks the Spot of Convective Churning on Hot Pluto

    01/09/2016 4:45:38 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 18 replies
    universe today ^ | 01/08/2016 | Ken Kremer
    X marks the spot that's illustrative of "convective churning" resulting from subsurface planetary heating, as seen in a fascinating new super high resolution image received from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2015. Its situated at the very center of the left ventricle of Pluto's huge "heart" - an icy flow plain that's informally named "Sputnik Planum." The "X" feature - see image above - is located in an area of intersecting cells, shaped like polygons, on the plains of "Sputnik Planum" which are mostly comprised of frozen nitrogen ices. So what's really piqued the interest of...
  • Precise stellar surface gravities from the time scales of...

    01/05/2016 12:06:22 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    Science Advances ^ | January 1, 2016 | Thomas Kallinger, Saskia Hekker, Rafael A. GarcĂ­a, Daniel Huber, and Jaymie M. Matthews
    We have demonstrated that the typical time scale of the combined granulation and oscillation variability is a reliable tracer of stellar surface gravity for stars with masses 0.8 to 3 times the mass of the Sun across a wide evolutionary range -- from main sequence stars with granulation time scales of minutes to hours to red giants with granulation time scales of days, including luminous red giants with time scales of weeks. We have tested this for a well-defined subsample of the Kepler catalog and found it to maintain a high accuracy, about six times better than that of the...