Monthly Archives: March 2014
The binary system SS Cygni contains a white dwarf and a red dwarf that complete orbits around each other in just 6.6 hours. This pair, which astronomers thought was 520 light-years away, actually is just 370 light-years from Earth, according to results published May 24 in Science.
For decades, scientists have witnessed swirling clouds and violent winds in the atmospheres of ice giants Uranus and Neptune. Voyager data in the 1980s revealed that the pair actually has some of the strongest east-west jet streams in the solar system.
October 2013 was an exciting month for planetary science as researchers announced four unique planets. Nikku Madhusudhan of Yale University and colleagues found a rocky exoplanet that’s twice as wide as Earth and holds about eight times more mass than our planet. This super-Earth” orbits its Sun-like star, 55 Cancri, in just 18 hours.
A team of astrobiologists has invented a method of research that could identify life on other planets. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem, the telescope that will allow obtaining this information will be ready only in 2018.
Astronomers have discovered the largest yellow star ever observed in our galaxy, the Milky Way, which is 1,300 times larger than our sun and about 1 million times brighter than it, according to measurements made with a Very Large Telescope Interferometer of the European Southern Observatory in Paranal, Chile.
Beyond Mars lie the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. These giant gas balls have no solid surface and thus no possibility of volcanic activity. Any such action in this part of the solar system would have to be on a planetary moon.
Astronomers estimate that every second, somewhere in the observable universe, a star undergoes a supernova explosion. These stars are the source of chemical elements heavier than boron — like the calcium in our bones, the iron in our blood, and the sodium and potassium that orchestrate nerve impulses.
In the late 18th century, two scientists (John Michell and Pierre Simon Laplace) separately theorized that a star could be so massive that not even light could escape its surface. But nothing more was made of these “dark stars” until the 20th century, when Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity.
Scientists are about to observe a supermassive black hole‘s table manners. While studying the motions of stars near the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, astronomers discovered a huge gas cloud, called G2, heading directly toward it. The findings appeared in the January 5 issue of Nature.