When you think about what makes a planet special, maybe you think about its size, its composition, how far it is from the Sun, and maybe how large its collection of apples is. You are probably not thinking about its density. But maybe you should be.
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Are they stars? Are they lost planets? Brown dwarfs, the galaxy's dark, wandering orbs, are some of space's most perplexing features. They're larger than Jupiter but smaller than stars, glow on their own and, well, they're just really strange. A new analysis seems to explain at least a few of their mysteries.
Deadly radiation might have dampened hopes that TRAPPIST-1's seven planets could be home to some sort of life, but that hasn't stopped scientists from continued research and investigation. The latest revelation? TRAPPIST-1 is almost certainly older than our own solar system. Much, much older in fact.
The ending of NASA's Cassini mission is a truly intoxicating cocktail of emotions; on one hand, the data from this 20-year-long mission will fuel scientific research for years to come. On the other hand, where are we going to get our regular updates on everyone's favourite gas giant? What about the photos? Seriously, our Saturn-induced FOMO is about to skyrocket.
Thanks largely to NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets lurking outside our solar system. Finding what creeps around those planets, however, has proven itself to be incredibly challenging. While scientists have had a few close calls with exomoons over the years, so far, no discovery's been legit. But a group of astronomers at Columbia University now think they have found an exomoon for real, roughly 4000 lightyears away.
Uranus is the loneliest thing in the solar system. It hasn't had contact with anyone in over 30 years, since NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft whizzed by it on 24 January 1986. Thankfully, some good folks at NASA and elsewhere are advocating for missions to Uranus and its Ice Giant companion, Neptune, which could take place at some point in the next few decades.
Planets sort of look like big basketballs in space, floating around aimlessly. Sometimes they have rings. Other times, they look like gnocchi. More or less, to the average stargazer, planets have roughly the same shape — but a pair of scientists has just thrown a most delicious curveball into this whole equation. Apparently, doughnut planets might be a thing.
WASHINGTON, DC — Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates' grabbed the world's attention when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a plan to establish a colony on Mars by 2117. Officials have been relatively mum about the details of the "Mars 2117 Project" — but yesterday, a person helping to lead the endeavour discussed how young Arab people will lead the mission.
The Pluto-shaped void in our hearts has yet to be filled by Planet 9, copious amounts of Ben & Jerry's, or anything. Ever since the winter of 2015, when NASA's New Horizons performed a six-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons, fans of the dwarf planet have wondered if or when we'd ever go back. According to New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, he and some other planetary scientists are already drawing up the blueprint for a return trip — and this time, it'd be much more than just a flyby.
When we think of dwarf planets, the first thing that comes to mind is obviously the injustice of Pluto getting demoted to one. But the truth is, these little guys — and there are six currently recognised within our solar system — deserve just as much love as their mightier planetary cousins. Good news for them: a new study suggests that the dwarf planet club could get another member, in the form of a very small, distant object located roughly 92 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun.
Millennials have already lost so much: A relatively secure housing market, the hope of stable careers, and an Earth that wasn't completely littered with the mistakes of Baby Boomers. So when Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006, it was another nail in our fragile hearts. But that hasn't stopped astronomers of all ages debating about whether or not Pluto — and other objects in our solar system — are, in fact, planets. Pluto could be a planet, because the very word "planet" is a bit nebulous, even for experts.
Last month, the solar system lost its collective chill when NASA announced the discovery of a seven-planet system called TRAPPIST-1, just 39 light-years from our Sun. The system is particularly exciting, not only because of its proximity to our planet, but because it has three planets within the habitable zone, where liquid water (and potentially life) could be supported. There's already a website dedicated to these mysterious planets, filled with stunning art and literal fan fiction. In short, TRAPPIST-1 is already getting the One Direction treatment.
Video: This planet of ours, it ain't gonna last forever. And though who the heck knows what's going to happen to the world that far off into the future (or even after November 8), Life Noggin decided to conduct a little brain exercise about how we could convert a planet like Mars or Venus, or a moon like Europa, into a second Earth.
A stellar view of the night sky, including all of our celestial neighbours, is dependent on countless factors like light pollution, the weather, and even the time of year. But you can guarantee that all of the planets in our solar system are visible when you go stargazing with this planetary string light set created by ThinkGeek.
When astronomers confirmed the discovery of an Earth-sized world orbiting Proxima Centauri just 4.25 light years away, hopes were ignited that there may be more planetary real estate in our cosmic neighbourhood. To find out, a team of ex-NASA scientists is now seeking private funding to scour the Alpha Centauri system for habitable planets.