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TRAPPIST-1’s seventh planet is a chilly world

TRAPPIST 1 system

FAR OUT TRAPPIST-1h (outermost magenta line) orbits its star in about 19 days, new observations show. The orbits of the system’s other six planets are shown in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

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When astronomers in February announced the discovery of seven planets orbiting a supercool star, details about the outermost planet were sketchy. No more. The seventh planet is chilly and definitely no place for life, the international team reports May 22 in Nature Astronomy.

The seven-planet system, TRAPPIST-1, is 39 light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. Follow-up observations of the system reveal that TRAPPIST-1h is about three-quarters the size of Earth and orbits its star in just under 19 days. The planet sits about 9.6 million kilometers from its star, which has only 8 percent of the mass of the sun. As a result, TRAPPIST-1h gets about as much starlight as the icy dwarf planet Ceres, in the asteroid belt, gets from the sun.

Such limited light makes the planet too cold (‒100° Celsius) to harbor liquid water and therefore life as we know it, the researchers report.

Development

Mouse sperm survive space to spawn

By Laurel Hamers 3:00pm, May 22, 2017
Sperm freeze-dried and sent into space for months of exposure to high levels of solar radiation later produced healthy baby mice.
Biomedicine,, Health

Older adults may not benefit from taking statins

By Aimee Cunningham 2:30pm, May 22, 2017
Statins did not reduce heart attacks, coronary heart disease deaths or deaths from any cause in people age 65 and older, a new analysis finds.
Climate,, Animals,, Ecology

Higher temperatures could trigger an uptick in damselfly cannibalism

By Helen Thompson 7:05pm, May 16, 2017
Experiments in the lab suggest that increases in temperature could indirectly lead to an increase in cannibalistic damselfly nymphs.
Animals,, Technology

Trackers may tip a warbler’s odds of returning to its nest

By Helen Thompson 2:30pm, May 5, 2017
Geolocator devices that help track migrating birds could also hamper migration survival or timing.
Animals

Big dads carry weight among wandering albatrosses

By Helen Thompson 12:00pm, May 3, 2017
For male albatrosses, bulking up impacts survival and reproduction.
Earth,, Climate

Crack in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf forks

By Thomas Sumner 4:39pm, May 2, 2017
An 180-kilometer-long rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf has forked into two branches, new satellite observations show.
Fungi,, Chemistry

How a mushroom gets its glow

By Susan Milius 9:00am, April 27, 2017
For the first time, biologists have pinpointed the compound that lights up in fungal bioluminescence.
Animals,, Genetics

Dog DNA study maps breeds across the world

By Helen Thompson 11:30am, April 26, 2017
Here are five findings from a massive study of dog breed genomes.
Science & Society

Watch the March for Science in Washington, D.C.

By Science News 6:00am, April 22, 2017
Watch the live stream of the March for Science in Washington, D.C. on April 22.
Planetary Science

In ‘grand finale,’ Cassini spacecraft sets off on collision course with Saturn

By Ashley Yeager 7:00am, April 21, 2017
The Cassini spacecraft will plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere and disintegrate on Sept. 15, but is slated to do some solid science before its demise.
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