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Topic: Exoplanets

NASA measures density of the Seven TRAPPIST-1 Planets

 

Precise measurements reveal that the exoplanets have remarkably similar densities, which provides clues about their composition.

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is home to the largest group of roughly Earth-size planets ever found in a single stellar system. Located about 40 light-years away, these seven rocky siblings provide an example of the tremendous variety of planetary systems that likely fill the universe.

A new study published today in the Planetary Science Journal shows that the TRAPPIST-1 planets have remarkably similar densities. That could mean they all contain about the same ratio of materials thought to compose most rocky planets, like iron, oxygen, magnesium, and silicon.

Measuring the mass and diameter of a planet reveals its density, which can give scientists clues about its composition. Scientists now know the density of the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets with a higher precision than any other planets in the universe, other than those in our own solar system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Measuring the mass and diameter of a planet reveals its density, which can give scientists clues about its composition. Scientists now know the density of the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets with a higher precision than any other planets in the universe, other than those in our own solar system. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Citizen Scientists Help Create 3D Map of Cosmic Neighborhood

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Is our solar system located in a typical Milky Way neighborhood? Scientists have gotten closer to answering this question, thanks to the NASA-funded Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project, a citizen science collaboration between professional scientists and members of the public.

Scientists tapped into the worldwide network of 150,000 volunteers using Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 to find new examples of brown dwarfs. These objects are balls of gas that are not heavy enough to be stars since they can’t power themselves through nuclear fusion the way stars do.

Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. (NASA/ESA/JPL)

Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. (NASA/ESA/JPL)

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NASA Kepler Space Telescope data reveals around Half of Sun Like Stars could have Rocky, Potentially Habitable Planets

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – Since astronomers confirmed the presence of planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, humanity has wondered how many could harbor life. Now, we’re one step closer to finding an answer.

According to new research using data from NASA’s retired planet-hunting mission, the Kepler space telescope, about half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.

This illustration depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)

This illustration depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)

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NASA’s TESS Satellite images used to create Northern Sky Panorama

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered 74 exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system. Astronomers are sifting through some 1,200 additional exoplanet candidates, where potential new worlds await confirmation. More than 600 of these candidates lie in the northern sky.

TESS locates planets by simultaneously monitoring many stars over large regions of the sky and watching for tiny changes in their brightness. When a planet passes in front of its host star from our perspective, it blocks some of the star’s light, causing it to temporarily dim.

This detail of the TESS northern panorama features a region in the constellation Cygnus. At center, the sprawling dark nebula Le Gentil 3, a vast cloud of interstellar dust, obscures the light of more distant stars. A prominent tendril extending to the lower left points toward the bright North America Nebula, glowing gas so named for its resemblance to the continent. (NASA/MIT/TESS and Ethan Kruse (USRA))

This detail of the TESS northern panorama features a region in the constellation Cygnus. At center, the sprawling dark nebula Le Gentil 3, a vast cloud of interstellar dust, obscures the light of more distant stars. A prominent tendril extending to the lower left points toward the bright North America Nebula, glowing gas so named for its resemblance to the continent. (NASA/MIT/TESS and Ethan Kruse (USRA))

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope use Moon to observe Earth’s Ozone Layer

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected Earth’s own brand of sunscreen – ozone – in our atmosphere. This method simulates how astronomers and astrobiology researchers will search for evidence of life beyond Earth by observing potential “biosignatures” on exoplanets (planets around other stars).

Hubble did not look at Earth directly. Instead, the astronomers used the Moon as a mirror to reflect sunlight, which had passed through Earth’s atmosphere, and then reflected back towards Hubble.

This illustration shows the Hubble Space Telescope superimposed on an image of the Moon, seen during a lunar eclipse. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse in January 2019, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth's atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets transiting in front of other stars in search of life. (M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA)

This illustration shows the Hubble Space Telescope superimposed on an image of the Moon, seen during a lunar eclipse. Taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse in January 2019, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have detected ozone in Earth’s atmosphere. This method serves as a proxy for how they will observe Earth-like planets transiting in front of other stars in search of life. (M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), NASA, and ESA)

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NASA releases projected Launch Date for James Webb Space Telescope

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA now is targeting October 31st, 2021, for the launch of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges.

This decision is based on a recently completed schedule risk assessment of the remaining integration and test activities prior to launch. Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope in the clean room at Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, California, in July 2020. (NASA/Chris Gunn)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in the clean room at Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, California, in July 2020. (NASA/Chris Gunn)

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NASA says Two Bizarre Brown Dwarfs Found With Citizen Scientists’ Help

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With the help of citizen scientists, astronomers have discovered two highly unusual brown dwarfs, balls of gas that are not massive enough to power themselves the way stars do.

Participants in the NASA-funded Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 project helped lead scientists to these bizarre objects, using data from NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) satellite along with all-sky observations collected between 2009 and 2011 under its previous moniker, WISE. Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is an example of “citizen science,” a collaboration between professional scientists and members of the public.

This artist's concept shows a brown dwarf, a ball of gas not massive enough to power itself the way stars do. Despite their name, brown dwarfs would appear magenta or orange-red to the human eye if seen close up. (William Pendrill (CC BY))

This artist’s concept shows a brown dwarf, a ball of gas not massive enough to power itself the way stars do. Despite their name, brown dwarfs would appear magenta or orange-red to the human eye if seen close up. (William Pendrill (CC BY))

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NASA’s proposed VERITAS spacecraft would explore the depths of Venus

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Under consideration to become the next NASA Discovery Program mission, VERITAS would reveal the inner workings of Earth’s mysterious “twin.”

Imagine Earth. Now fill the skies with thick, Sun-obscuring clouds of sulfuric acid; boil off the oceans by cranking up the temperature to 900 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 500 degrees Celsius), and boost the air pressure high enough to flatten you like a pancake. What you now have is Venus, a rocky planet similar in size to Earth but different in almost every other way.

An artist's concept of active volcanos on Venus, depicting a subduction zone where the foreground crust plunges into the planet's interior at the topographic trench. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Peter Rubin)

An artist’s concept of active volcanos on Venus, depicting a subduction zone where the foreground crust plunges into the planet’s interior at the topographic trench. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Peter Rubin)

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NASA’s TESS Satellite, Spitzer Space Telescope find Large World Orbiting Young Star

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For more than a decade, astronomers have searched for planets orbiting AU Microscopii, a nearby star still surrounded by a disk of debris left over from its formation. Now scientists using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope report the discovery of a planet about as large as Neptune that circles the young star in just over a week.

The system, known as AU Mic for short, provides a one-of-kind laboratory for studying how planets and their atmospheres form, evolve and interact with their stars.

This image is an artist's concept of the planet AU Mic b and its young parent star. The faint band of light encircling the pair is a disk of gas and dust from which both the star and the planet formed. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

This image is an artist’s concept of the planet AU Mic b and its young parent star. The faint band of light encircling the pair is a disk of gas and dust from which both the star and the planet formed. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

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NASA says Young Giant Planets could help answer questions on how Planets Form

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says that for most of human history our understanding of how planets form and evolve was based on the eight (or nine) planets in our solar system. But over the last 25 years, the discovery of more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, changed all that.

Among the most intriguing of these distant worlds is a class of exoplanets called hot Jupiters. Similar in size to Jupiter, these gas-dominated planets orbit extremely close to their parent stars, circling them in as few as 18 hours.

This image shows a type of gas giant planet known as a hot Jupiter that orbits very close to its star. Finding more of these youthful planets could help astronomers understand how they formed and if they migrate from cooler climes during their lifetimes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows a type of gas giant planet known as a hot Jupiter that orbits very close to its star. Finding more of these youthful planets could help astronomers understand how they formed and if they migrate from cooler climes during their lifetimes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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