The recent discovery of Earth-like planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system has been a major headline for the past few weeks. A team led by Michael Gillon found three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system in 2016, and recently reported at least 4 more which may contain the appropriate elements for life. One of the strongest indicators that a planet could harbor life is if a planet’s … Continue reading TRAPPIST-1 and Earth’s distant cousins
In the early 1900s, Edwin Hubble observed that distant galaxies are moving away from us. This surprising observation led Hubble to hypothesize that the universe is expanding; more recently, scientists have observed that not only is the universe expanding, but that the expansion is accelerating! The evidence for acceleration emerged from observations of a particular kind of supernovae (Type Ia supernovae) that have a uniform … Continue reading Don’t worry, the expansion of the universe is still accelerating
Historically, galactic rotation curves have suggested that galaxies are surrounded by a vast amount of invisible matter, otherwise known as a dark matter halo. A few weeks ago, a team of astrophysicists published a result that completely contradicts these halo models and could even change the popular understanding of dark matter. The team found that galactic rotation curves can be calculated explicitly from a simple … Continue reading Galactic Rotation Curves Revisited: A Surprise For Dark Matter
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
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?
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
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
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
Presented by Laura Schaefer Searching for life in our galaxy means first finding liquid water. Water is found throughout our Solar System in many different forms, but the Earth, because of its balmy temperatures and unique geology, is the only known planet with sailable seas. Astronomers are searching far and wide for other planets that might host liquid water. In their search, they have found … Continue reading Sailing the Seas of Alien Worlds: The fate of oceans on rocky planets
Although dark matter makes up 80% of all matter in the universe, physicists are still struggling to understand exactly what it is. This perplexity is largely due to the fact that dark matter is invisible and difficult to study directly, but a dwarf galaxy named Reticulum 2 may have just changed the game. Many experts believe that when dark matter particles collide, high-energy light is … Continue reading Dark Matter Detected, or False Alarm?