Small worlds come in two flavors. The complete dataset from the original mission of the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope reveals a split in the exoplanet family tree, setting super-Earths apart from mini-Neptunes.
Kepler's final exoplanet catalog, released in a news conference June 19, now consists of 4,034 exoplanet candidates. Of those, 49 are rocky worlds in their stars'...
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For the first time, researchers have watched relatively cool parcels of plasma speed away from the surface of the sun and off into space, all the while cocooned in a million-degree flare.
Shadia Habbal of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and colleagues used a specially designed spectrometer to observe the eruption from Svalbard, Norway, during the March 2015...
Once every 53 days, Jupiter pulls Juno close. Locked in orbit since July 2016, the spacecraft has made five close flybys of the planet so far. More than 1,300 Earths could fit inside Jupiter, but Juno takes only two hours to zip from pole to pole. That mad, north-to-south trek is shown below in a sequence of 14 enhanced-color images taken May 19.
Each image’s width corresponds to the...
Jupiter was an early bloomer. New measurements of meteorite ages suggest that the giant planet’s core must have formed within the solar system’s first million years. If so, Jupiter’s presence could help explain why the inner planets are so small — and possibly even be responsible for Earth’s existence.
Previously, astronomers’ best constraints on Jupiter’s age came from simulations of...
The planet KELT 9b is so hot — hotter than many stars — that it shatters gas giant temperature records, researchers report online June 5 in Nature.
This Jupiter-like exoplanet revolves around a star just 650 light-years away, locked in an orbit that keeps one side always facing its star. With blistering temps hovering at about 4,300o Celsius, the atmosphere on KELT 9b’s dayside is over...
Letters to the Editor
Proton puzzler05/31/2017 - 15:45 Particle Physics, Climate, Planetary Science
Uncertainty over the proton’s size, spin and life span could have physicists rethinking standard notions about matter and the universe, Emily Conover reported in “The proton puzzle” (SN: 4/29/17, p. 22).
Readers wondered about the diameter (or size) of the proton, which has three fundamental particles called quarks rattling around inside. “Still scratching my head over how...
For centuries, skywatchers have reported seeing and simultaneously hearing meteors whizzing overhead, which doesn’t make sense given that light travels roughly 800,000 times as fast as sound. Now scientists say they have a potential explanation for the paradox.
The sound waves aren’t coming from the meteor itself, atmospheric scientists Michael Kelley of Cornell University and Colin...
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 peek at a vast region of...
Jupiter’s scientific portrait is getting repainted.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft swooped within about 5,000 kilometers of Jupiter’s cloud tops on August 27, 2016, giving scientists their first intimate look at the gas giant. The data are revealing surprising details about Jupiter’s gravity, powerful magnetic field and ammonia-rich weather system. The findings, which appear in two studies in...
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...