Astronomers want you in on the search for the solar system’s ninth planet.
In the online citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, space lovers can flip through space images and search for this potential planet as well as other far-off worlds awaiting discovery.
The images, taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite, offer a peak at a vast region of...
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HAT-P 7b is a windy world. Stiff easterlies typically whip through the atmosphere of the distant exoplanet, but sometimes the powerful gales blow in surprisingly varied directions. Now, simulations of the planet’s magnetic field lines, illustrated here as a rainbow of scrawled marks, reveal that HAT-P 7b’s magnetic field influences the winds, even turning some into...
50 Years Ago
Saturn: Four Rings
Walter A. Feibelman of the University of Pittsburgh … has found evidence indicating a fourth ring [of Saturn].… Every 14.78 years, the rings of Saturn can be seen edge-on from Earth, and the past winter marked one of these opportunities.… The thin ring “extends to more than twice the known ring diameter” (or a total of 340,000 miles), and is so faint it cannot be...
Ask 10 people what makes humans human and you’ll probably get 10 different answers — and then some. From our biased perspective, it’s seemingly simple to come up with many qualities that define the human experience. We love, we laugh. We form deep personal bonds and complex societies. We use language to communicate, art to express ourselves and technology to accomplish complex tasks. As...
Chaco Canyon is a land of extremes. Summer heat scorches the desert canyon, which is sandwiched between sandstone cliffs nearly two kilometers above sea level in New Mexico’s northwestern corner. Bitter cold sweeps in for winter. Temperatures can swing as many as 28 degrees Celsius during the course of a day. Through it all, Chaco Canyon maintains a desolate beauty and a craggy pride as home...
After a recent flurry of news that fang blennies mix an opioid in their venom, a question lingers: What do they need with fangs anyway? Most eat wimpy stuff that hardly justifies whopper canines.
Not that fang blennies are meek fishes.
“When they bite, they bite savagely,” says Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. “If these little jobbies were 3 meters...
Face-to-face, a human and a chimpanzee are easy to tell apart. The two species share a common primate ancestor, but over millions of years, their characteristics have morphed into easily distinguishable features. Chimps developed prominent brow ridges, flat noses, low-crowned heads and protruding muzzles. Human noses jut from relatively flat faces under high-domed crowns.
Certain stealthy spacetime curiosities might be less hidden than thought, potentially exposing themselves to observers in some curved universes.
These oddities, known as singularities, are points in space where the standard laws of physics break down. Found at the centers of black holes, singularities are generally expected to be hidden from view, shielding the universe from their...
As the Cassini spacecraft plunges toward its death on Saturn, the world’s knowledge of the famous ringed planet continues to accumulate. Thanks to years of observations by the versatile probe, astronomers now know Saturn as intimately as macaroni knows cheese. But still hardly anyone outside the world of astronomy knows anything about Cassini — and I don’t mean the spacecraft, but the guy it...
In a famous series of experiments conducted in the 1970s, social psychologist Henri Tajfel asked how little it would take to persuade one group of people to discriminate against another. The answer was almost nothing. Having assigned boys to two groups based largely on random criteria, he asked them to play a game. Each boy had to decide how many pennies to give to members of his own group and...