Billions of Earthlike Planets Crowd Milky Way?
Nearly every star in the Milky Way (pictured) has its own Earthlike planet, astronomers say.
Biggest Thing in Universe Found—Defies Scientific Theory
Quasar cluster is “challenge to our current understanding,” astronomer says
In the image: A quasar jets energy in an illustration. A newfound quasar cluster is the universe’s biggest known object.
I don’t know, but since I love photography, this image inspires me so bad. Gahhh. BRB, Drooling
—A giant wave along Chicago’s lakefront threatens to swallow a photographer. (Chicago Sun-Times)
NASA’s Intense Satellite Views of Hurricane Sandy
(Source: Flickr / gsfc)
NASA detects extreme temperatures on Saturn after an enormous storm
In December 2010, Saturn was quickly overrun by a storm several times the size of Earth. For months the atmospheric outburst raged, growing and traveling so quickly that it soon managed to wrap itself around the entire northern hemisphere. To date, it is the most massive storm we’ve ever observed on the ringed planet. Now, NASA scientists are saying the storm was even more powerful than previously believed — and that things got very, very hot.
Shortly after the Saturnian storm erupted in late 2010, NASA scientists used infrared imaging equipment onboard the Agency’s Cassini spacecraft to identify two “beacons” within the tempest, where temperatures were elevated above normal by around 20 degrees Kelvin. This temperature differential, explains planetary scientist Brigette Hesman, is regarded as “reasonable” for your typical Saturnian storm.
Newfound Alien Planet a Top Contender to Host Life
In the image: Artist’s rendition of the “super Earth” Gliese 163c, which may be capable of supporting microbial life.
A newly discovered alien planet may be one of the top contenders to support life beyond Earth, researchers say.
The newfound world, a “super Earth” called Gliese 163c, lies at the edge of its star’s habitable zone — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could exist.
Astronomers find 2 alien planets with twin suns, just like ‘Star Wars’
The star and its planets, called Kepler-47b and Kepler-47c, dwell about 5,000 light-years away, in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.
New Planet Found: Molten “Mars” Is “Right Around the Corner”
Magma may cover UCF-1.01, which orbits scorchingly close to its star, as shown in an artist’s concept.
In a surprise find, astronomers have discovered a planet possibly covered with oceans of magma “right around the corner.”
Approaching the Red Planet
A Martian flying saucer? No, this one is all ours. This is an artist’s conception of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft nearing Mars, the new rover Curiosity inside. This historic landing is set for Sunday, Aug. 5.
On that day, years of preparation will culminate in what scientists call “7 minutes of terror” on Sunday. That’s the amount of time it takes the rover-carrying spacecraft to get from the top of Mars’ atmosphere to its surface. But because it takes 14 minutes for the signal from the spacecraft to reach Earth, by the time NASA scientists hear that the spacecraft has hit the atmosphere, it’s actually been on the surface for 7 minutes. Until those 7 minutes pass, no one will know whether the rover made it down safely.
The Curiosity rover’s mission is to study Mars’ climate and geology, as well as to gather information for a potential manned mission to Earth’s neighboring planet.
No, this isn’t the twin of our solar system — but it’s proof that our planetary orbits aren’t a “fluke”
Yet another piece of evidence that our world is not as unique as we feared: There’s a solar system out there that’s like ours in one extremely vital respect, according to a group of scientists from MIT and the University of California at Santa Cruz.
The solar system, Kepler-30, has planets that travel along regularly aligned orbits. At the center of this solar system is the star Kepler-30a, with three planets traveling around it. The planets, dubbed Kepler-30b, 30c, and 30d, each follow orbiting paths similar to the ones Earth, Mars, or Jupiter travel as they dance around Sun.
Stable planetary orbits are exciting, as astronomers think stability of orbit is key for the existence of life. These planets are located within the Lyra constellation, the same constellation that holds the fictional planet K-PAX from the Kevin Spacey movie of the same name.
Researchers made the discovery while sifting through data obtained by the Kepler Space Telescope. The Kepler Space Telescope currently takes data on over 150,000 stars, with most astronomers gleaning the data in hopes of discovery exoplanets.
While analyzing the data from Kepler, the researchers honed in on a Sun-like star, Kepler-30a. By observing the location of several sunspots on Kepler, the scientists determined the alignment of the planets orbiting the solar system Kepler-30.
Co-author Joshua Winn spoke conservatively on linking the discover to our solar system:
We’ve been hungry for one like this, where it’s not exactly like the solar system, but at least it’s more normal, where the planets and the star are aligned with each other. […] It’s the first case where we can say that, besides the solar system.
In an official press release from NASA, Winn added:
It’s telling me that the solar system isn’t some fluke. […] The fact that the sun’s rotation is lined up with the planets’ orbits, that’s probably not some freak coincidence.
The newly discovered exoplanetary solar system Kepler-30 is not a carbon copy of ours, however. There are only three planets circling Kepler-30a versus the eight (or nine if you are a Pluto stalwart) circling our Sun.
The size of the planets orbiting Kepler-30a is under debate, with their complete orbital period needing additional study. Regardless, the discovery of the Kepler-30 system is exciting, possibly putting us one step closer to determining the conditions necessary for life or maybe — just maybe locating some distant friends in the universe.
Check out the full article, Alignment of the stellar spin with the orbits of a three-planet system, published this week in Nature. Image of the Kepler Space Telescope are from the NASA Ames Research Center. Images by Cristina Sanchis Ojeda/Ames Research Center.
Their answer, in short: Yes, a hot drink can cool you down, but only in specific circumstances. “If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate,” Jay says.
How does this work? “What we found is that when you ingest a hot drink, you actually have a disproportionate increase in the amount that you sweat,” Jay says. “Yes, the hot drink is hotter than your body temperature, so you are adding heat to the body, but the amount that you increase your sweating by—if that can all evaporate—more than compensates for the the added heat to the body from the fluid.”
The increased rate of perspiration is the key. Although sweat may seem like a nuisance, the body perspires for a very good reason. When sweat evaporates from the skin, energy is absorbed into the air as part of the reaction, thereby cooling the body. A larger amount of sweat means more cooling, which more than counteracts the small amount of heat contained in a hot beverage relative to the entire body.”
A Startling Vortex on the South Pole of Titan
The Cassini imaging team released today a near-true-color image and a movie taken during a flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan on June 27, 2012 by the Cassini spacecraft. The image reveals a swirling, whirling vortex forming high in the atmosphere overlying the south pole of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, as the moon’s southern hemisphere slowly becomes engulfed in the darkness of deep autumn. The south pole of Titan (3,200 miles across) is near the center of the view. Scientists have long known that the entire winter hemisphere of Titan can exhibit a polar “hood” of haze made of condensing organic compounds, but this is something new and amazing.
Vanishing Dust Belt Around Star Baffles Scientists
A dusty disk around a distant star has faded surprisingly fast, leaving scientists few clues to how it disappeared.
Only a few years ago, the space around the star TYC 8241 2652 1 was filled with dust and gas, but recent observations show the region — an ideal spot for alien planets to form — has all but vanished.
“It’s like the classic magician’s trick: Now you see it, now you don’t,” principal investigator Carl Melis of the University of California, San Diego said in a statement. “Only in this case, we’re talking about enough dust to fill an inner solar system, and it really is gone!”
In the Image:
1. Artist’s concept of the dusty TYC 8241 2652 star system as it might have appeared several years ago, when it was emitting large amounts of excess infrared radiation.
2. Artist’s concept of the TYC 8241 2652 system as it might appear now, after most of the surrounding dust has disappeared.
A new study indicates that Mars’ mantle contains as much water deep underground as Earth’s
Despite claims in the 1890s that Mars with filled with canals teeming with water, research over the past several decades has suggest that in fact, Mars has only a tiny amount of water, mostly near its surface.Then, during the 1970s, as part of NASA’s Mariner space orbiter program, dry river beds and canyons on Mars were discovered—the first indications that surface water may have once existed there. The Viking program subsequently found enormous river valleys on the planet, and in 2003 it was announced that the Mars Odyssey spacecraft had actually detected minute quantities of liquid water on and just below the surface, which was later confirmed by the Phoenix lander.
Now, according to an article published yesterday in the journal Geology, there is evidence that Mars is home to vast reservoirs of water in its interior as well. The finding has weighty implications for our understanding of the geology of Mars, for hopes that the planet may have at some point in the past was home to extraterrestrial life, and for the long-term prospects of human colonization there.