Watch This 12-Year Timelapse of Exoplanets Orbiting Their Star

Four faint exoplanets orbit star HR8799, which is represented by a star-shaped icon in the center. (The star itself was removed from the video because its glare is so intense that it blocks out the surrounding planets.) Credit: Jason Wang/Northwestern University.

Back in 2008, astronomers made a big announcement: for the first time, they had taken pictures of a multi-planet solar system, much like ours, orbiting another star. At the time, the star system, named HR8799 was known to have three planets, but follow-up observations a year later revealed a fourth world.

Astronomers have continued to watch this intriguing star system, and now, using observations from the last 12 years, astrophysicist Jason Wang has put together a time lapse video showing the orbital motions of the four planets.

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NASA has Simulated a Tiny Part of the Moon Here on Earth

Using the Lunar Lab and Regolith Testbeds at NASA’s Ames Research Center, a team created this simulated lunar environment to study lighting conditions experienced at the unexplored poles of the Moon. Credit: NASA/Uland Wong.

Before going to the Moon, the Apollo astronauts trained at various sites on Earth that best approximated the lunar surface, such as the volcanic regions Iceland and Hawaii and deserts in the US Southwest.  To help prepare for upcoming robotic and human Artemis missions, a newly upgraded “mini-Moon” lunar testbed will allow astronauts and robots to test out realistic conditions on the Moon including rough terrain and unusual sunlight.

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Astronomers See Flashes on the Sun That Could be a Sign of an Upcoming Flare

A moderate solar flare erupts on the sun July 8, 2014 in this image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA/SDO

Using data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, scientists have discovered new clues that could help predict when and where the next solar flare might blast from the Sun.

Researchers were able to identify small flashes in the upper layers of the corona – the Sun’s atmosphere – found above regions that would later flare in energetic bursts of light and particles released from the Sun. The scientists compared the flashes to small sparklers before the big fireworks.

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Beautiful New Hubble Photo Shows Hot, Young Variable Stars in the Orion Nebula

The bright variable star V 372 Orionis takes centre stage in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Bally, M. Robberto.

Here’s another striking image from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope. These billows of blue and red show a detailed look at a small portion of the famous Orion Nebula. But what really catches the eye are the brilliant stars with the cross-shaped diffraction spikes — a hallmark of Hubble images.

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Europe Will be Building the Transfer Arm for the Mars Sample Return Mission

The concept for a Mars lander with a Sample Transfer Arm to retrieve and bring samples of Mars dirt and rocks to Earth. Credit: ESA.

Now that the Perseverance rover has dropped off ten regolith and rock sample tubes for a future sample return mission to retrieve, the plans for such a mission are coming together. The mission is a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency, and ESA has agreed to build a 2.5-meter-long robotic arm to pick up tubes and then transfer them to a rocket for the first-ever Mars samples to be brought to Earth.

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Truck-Sized Asteroid Flew Past Earth Yesterday, Coming Within 3,600 km

Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 BU seen as it passed Earth on January 26, 2023. Credit: Gianluca Masi, Virtual Telescope Project.

On January 26, a truck-sized asteroid flew past Earth, coming extremely close – within 3,600 km (2,200 miles) above the planet’s surface. This is well within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites and NASA says this flyby is one of the closest approaches by a near-Earth object ever recorded.

The asteroid, named 2023 BU’s has an estimated size of 3.5m to 8.5m across (11.5ft to 28ft). Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi, who leads the Virtual Telescope Project, captured images and video of the flyby and said a huge audience joined in for the live feed. At its closest approached, it zoomed over the southern tip of South America at about 4:27 p.m. PST (7:27 p.m. EST.)

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Perseverance Takes a Selfie to Show off Some of its Samples

The Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with several of the 10 sample tubes it deposited on the Martian surface. Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

One of the main jobs for the Perseverance Mars rover past few weeks has been collecting carefully selected samples of Mars rock and soil. These samples have been placed and sealed in special sample tubes and left in well-identified places so that a future sample return mission can collect them and bring the Martian samples back to Earth.

Perseverance has now dropped 10 sample tubes and to celebrate, it took a couple of selfies with several of the sample tubes visible in the designated ‘sample depot’ it is creating within an area of Jezero Crater. The area of the depot is nicknamed “Three Forks.”

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There's a Crater on Mars That Looks Like a Bear

A bear on Mars? Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona.

Facial pareidolia is the human tendency or illusion of seeing facial structures in an everyday objects – such as seeing the “man in the Moon,” or the face of Jesus on a piece of toast. But here’s a newly found crater on Mars that might be a case of ‘bear-adoilia.’

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Spectacular Images of the Rare ‘Green Comet’ Gracing Our Skies

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) seen from Payton, Arizona on January 21, 2023. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.

A rare ‘green’ comet is passing through our Solar System and astrophotographers have been out capturing photos. While this comet, named C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is not yet visible yet to the naked eye, it could be when it makes its closest approach to Earth on February 1, but you’ll likely need to be in a very dark site. As of now, you’ll need a telescope or binoculars to see it for yourself. The images here are taken with several minutes of exposure time.

This comet has been dubbed the “Green Comet” because of its greenish hue. Professor Paul Wiegert from Western University in Canada said that comets contain carbon-bearing molecules, which break down under ultraviolet light from the Sun. This produces, among other things, dicarbon molecules which produce the eerie green glow associated with some comets.

Our lead photo comes from photographer Chris Schur from Arizona, and he points out that the comet has a rare sun-ward pointing anti-tail. 

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JWST Sees Frozen Water, Ammonia, Methane and Other Ices in a Protostellar Nebula

A large, dark cloud is contained within the frame. In its top half it is textured like smoke and has wispy gaps, while at the bottom and at the sides it fades gradually out of view. On the left are several orange stars: three each with six large spikes, and one behind the cloud which colours it pale blue and orange. Many tiny stars are visible, and the background is black.
This image by the James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-InfraRed Camera (NIRCam) features the central region of the Chameleon I dark molecular cloud, which resides 630 light years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and M. Zamani (ESA/Webb); Science: M. K. McClure (Leiden Observatory), F. Sun (Steward Observatory), Z. Smith (Open University), and the Ice Age ERS Team.

Want to build a habitable planet? Then you’ll need various and sundry ingredients such as carbon, hydrogen oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur. The James Webb Space Telescope has found the building blocks for these key ingredients in the colds depths of a distant protostellar nebula called the Chameleon I molecular cloud. Scientists say the discovery of these proto-ingredients allows astronomers to examine the simple icy molecules that one day will be incorporated into future exoplanets.

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