From the dust, we rise. Vortices within the disks of young stars bring forth planets that coalesce into worlds. At least that’s our understanding of planetary evolution, and new images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope’s Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) further support this.Continue reading “Clumps Around a Young Star Could Eventually Turn Into Planets Like Jupiter”
With its thick, cloudy atmosphere, Venus has long held mysteries about its surface. It was only in the late 20th century that astronomers had detailed observations of the Venusian landscape, with the Russian Venera landers in the 1970s and 1980s, and later the 1990 Magellan mission, which made high-resolution radar maps of the surface. There are many things we still don’t know, but one thing we do know is that the surface of Venus is young. And a new study in Nature Astronomy may know why.Continue reading “Venus Needed Asteroid Impacts to Get its Volcanoes Going”
A recent study presented at the National Astronomy Meeting 2023 (NAM2023) examines a newly discovered planetary formation theory that challenges previous notions on how planets are formed in the disks of gas and dust surrounding young stars, also known as protoplanetary disks. Along with being presented at NAM2023, the study has also been submitted for peer-review to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and holds the potential to help scientists better understand not only how planets form, but how life could form on them, as well.Continue reading “Some Star Systems Create a Planet Sandwich”
When you hear the phrase “spiral arms” you probably think of galaxies. Lots of galaxies have bright arcs of stars that spiral away from their center, including our Milky Way. But not all galaxies have spiral arms, and galaxies aren’t the only celestial objects with spiral arms. About a third of protoplanetary disks around young stars have spiral arms, and we now think we know why.Continue reading “A Planet has Whipped Up Spiral Arms Around a Young Star”
In our solar system, the planetary orbits all have a similar orientation. Their orbital planes vary by a few degrees, but roughly the planets all orbit in the same direction. This invariable plane as it’s known also has an orientation within a few degrees of the Sun’s rotational plane. Most planetary systems have a similar arrangement, where planetary orbits and stellar rotation are roughly aligned, but a few exoplanets defy this trend, and we aren’t entirely sure why.Continue reading “Bizarre Exoplanet Breaks All the Orbital Rules”
In this era of exoplanet discovery, astronomers have found over 5,000 confirmed exoplanets, with thousands more awaiting confirmation and many billions more waiting to be discovered. These exoplanets exist in a bewildering spectrum of sizes, compositions, orbital periods, and just about every other characteristic that can be measured.
Learning about them has also shed light on our Solar System. We used to think of it as an archetypal arrangement of planets since it’s all we had to go on. But now we know we might be the outlier because we have no Super-Earth.Continue reading “What Would Happen if the Solar System Gained a Super-Earth?”
We have it relatively easy on the Earth. Our Sun is relatively calm. The space weather environment in the solar system is altogether placid. Things are nice. But new research has shown that we may be the exception rather than the rule, and that many exoplanets face much harsher conditions than we do.Continue reading “Most Exoplanets Suffer Worse Space Weather Than We Do”
Star clusters tend to host more hot Jupiters than average, but why? A team of astronomers have proposed a new solution, and it involves a lot of swapping of stellar neighbors.Continue reading “Trading Spaces: How Swapping Stars Create Hot Jupiters”
A team of astronomers has caught glimpses of gas giants forming around a very young star.
The nascent giants are having a chilling effect on their potential siblings.Continue reading “Baby Gas Giants Cast Shadows on Their Siblings”
Tragically sometimes stars engulf their own planets. While most stars are able to quickly cover up the evidence for their crime, a new study by astronomers has revealed that in some cases the evidence can linger for up to two billion years.Continue reading “It’s Tough to Find Evidence of Stars Eating Planets”