Potentially Habitable Planet

Potentially Habitable Planet Discovered Around Nearest Star

A new planet with the potential of sustaining life was discovered by astronomers at Queen Mary University Of London orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun – 4.2 light years away. Using small wobbles in the trajectory of Proxima Centauri caused by the orbit of this planet, dubbed ‘Proxima b,’ the astronomers calculated that the planet is one third more massive than earth, … Continue reading Potentially Habitable Planet Discovered Around Nearest Star

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Our Newest Planet: Is it real, and what can it tell us about our solar system?

by Chamith Fonseka figures by Anna Maurer The solar system may soon go back to having nine planets, but don’t rejoice yet, Pluto fans. Ten years ago, Pluto was downgraded to the status of a dwarf planet after a team of astronomers led by Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale discovered Eris, an object that was … Continue reading Our Newest Planet: Is it real, and what can it tell us about our solar system?

Planets found by the Kepler that are in their star's “habitable zone." Earth, Venus and Mars are included for comparison. (Credit: NASA Ames, Image obtained under Creative Commons License)

NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets

Recently, the Kepler mission announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets. The announcement represents the most planets ever discovered at a single time, and more than doubles the total number of planets discovered by the Kepler telescope. Launched into space by NASA in 2009, Kepler’s goal is to determine how many Earth-sized planets reside in or near habitable zones, and estimate how many of such planets might exist … Continue reading NASA’s Kepler Discovers over 1000 New Planets

LIGO has discovered ripples in spacetime, generated by the inspiral and merger of two massive black holes - Credit Caltech

LIGO and Gravitational Waves: Discovery of the Century

The Twitter rumors are true! In what some scientists are calling the discovery of the century, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) finally announced the first direct observation of gravitational waves.   Until a few days ago, gravitational waves were the only untested prediction of General Relativity. In General Relativity, space and time are not fixed. Spacetime curves around the matter and energy in the universe, … Continue reading LIGO and Gravitational Waves: Discovery of the Century

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Pluto Who? Astronomers Find Evidence for “New” Ninth Planet

It sounds like it belongs in a sci-fi B movie from the 1950s, but a growing body of evidence suggests that “Planet Nine” is the ninth planet in our solar system…if it actually exists.  Astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown recently observed that the orbits of several small, rocky objects beyond Neptune were arranged in an unexpected manner.  In fact, their alignment is so strange … Continue reading Pluto Who? Astronomers Find Evidence for “New” Ninth Planet

This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 meters deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org), Creative Commons.

Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

Surface features such as canyons and valleys on the “Red Planet” suggest an abundance of liquid water in its geological past. Water vapors on Mars were first detected in the early 60s followed by observation of water-rich ice patches decades later, but it was not until 2011 that Lujendra Ojha, a Nepali undergraduate student, spotted signs of possible water flows on our neighboring planet. While … Continue reading Going with the Flow: New Evidence for Liquid Water on Mars

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Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home

by Tansu Daylan figures by Kaitlyn Choi As Philae just woke up, we examine one exciting question of the Rosetta mission: what is the origin of water on Earth? A hypothesis proposes that comets brought to our planet this molecule central to life. The Rosetta mission is an ambitious scientific program launched by the European Space Agency to analyze the water on the comet 67P … Continue reading Closing in on the origin of terrestrial water: Philae calls back home