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Posts Tagged "planet formation"

Life, Unbounded

The Moon has it all: Explosions, Water, and Clues to the Grand Tack

Our high wilderness (Credit: T.A.Rector, I.P.Dell'Antonio/NOAO/AURA/NSF)

It’s only 240,000 miles away, yet this high wilderness still surprises and delights with clues about the origins of the solar system, Earth’s own water, and it even  supplies the occasional brilliant explosion. If you’ve been paying attention recently you’ll have noticed that the Moon is getting a lot of press. One reason is that [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Dance of the Exoplanets

Fomalhaut and Fomalhaut b (inset) Hubble imagery (Credit:  NASA, ESA, and P. Kalas (University of California, Berkeley and SETI Institute))

It’s been an exciting few days for exoplanetary science. A slew of refined statistical measurements of the abundance of other worlds have made it clearer than ever that our galaxy is crammed with planets. One in six stars should host at least one Earth-sized object in an orbit smaller than that of Mercury, implying that [...]

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Life, Unbounded

From Andromeda With Love

Here comes another galaxy... (Credit: NASA, ESA, Z. Levay and R. van der Marel (STScI), T. Hallas, and A. Mellinger)

Some recent research on the long-term future of the Milky Way prompted me to dig out and re-polish this post from the Life, Unbounded archives of 2010. Turns out it’s more relevant than ever… The galactic theme in the context of planets and life is an interesting one. Take our own particular circumstances. As unappealingly [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Lonely Planets: Hot Jupiters Are Isolated

Lonely Planets of the Cosmos

Hot Jupiters are special beasts in the exoplanetary menagerie. These giant worlds orbit their parent stars incredibly tightly, sometimes zipping around in barely a day or two, and so close that they can disturb the stellar atmosphere itself – as well as throwing themselves at the mercy of gravitational tides and scorching radiation. They were [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Stars Eat Planets

Caution! Do not cross this line... (NASA/ESA, G. Bacon STScI)

“What a deep voice you have,” said the little girl in surprise. “The better to greet you with,” said the wolf. “Goodness, what big eyes you have.” “The better to see you with.” “And what big hands you have!” exclaimed Little Red Riding Hood, stepping over to the bed. “The better to hug you with,” [...]

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Life, Unbounded

An Abundance of Exoplanets Changes our Universe

Earth-sized planets near and far (NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

Planets in habitable zones, planets orbiting twin suns, miniature solar systems, rogue planets, planets, planets, planets. If there is one single piece of information you should take away from the recent flood of incredible exoplanetary discoveries it is this: Our universe makes planets with extraordinary efficiency – if planets can form somewhere, they will. We’ve [...]

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Observations

Magnetoastrocoolness: How Cosmic Magnetic Fields Shape Planetary Systems

AUSTIN, Texas—Astrophysicists have a funny attitude toward magnetic fields. You might say they feel both repelled and attracted. Gravitation is assumed to rule the cosmos, so models typically neglect magnetism, which for most researchers is just as well, because the theory of magnetism has a forbidding reputation. The basic equations are simple enough, solving them [...]

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