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Topic: Orbits

NASA reports TRAPPIST-1 is nearly twice as Old as our Solar System

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If we want to know more about whether life could survive on a planet outside our solar system, it’s important to know the age of its star. Young stars have frequent releases of high-energy radiation called flares that can zap their planets’ surfaces.

If the planets are newly formed, their orbits may also be unstable. On the other hand, planets orbiting older stars have survived the spate of youthful flares, but have also been exposed to the ravages of stellar radiation for a longer period of time.

This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope helps scientists study Heartbeat Stars

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Matters of the heart can be puzzling and mysterious — so too with unusual astronomical objects called heartbeat stars.

Heartbeat stars, discovered in large numbers by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, are binary stars (systems of two stars orbiting each other) that got their name because if you were to map out their brightness over time, the result would look like an electrocardiogram, a graph of the electrical activity of the heart.

Scientists are interested in them because they are binary systems in elongated elliptical orbits. This makes them natural laboratories for studying the gravitational effects of stars on each other.

This artist's concept depicts "heartbeat stars," which have been detected by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and others. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts “heartbeat stars,” which have been detected by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and others. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovers Rocky Planet that baffles Astronomers

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.

“We were very surprised when we realized what we had found,” said astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the analysis using data originally collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

An artist's conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

An artist’s conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/David Aguilar)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope data shows Hot Jupiter Planets are not always Consumed by their Stars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Planets are pulled by the allure of their stars. Some planets, call Hot Jupiters, are gas giants that form farther from their stars before migrating inward and heating up.

Now, a new study using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope shows that hot Jupiters, despite their close-in orbits, are not regularly consumed by their stars. Instead, the planets remain in fairly stable orbits for billions of years, until the day comes when they may ultimately get eaten.

Researchers using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope have shown that migrating planets stop their inward journey before reaching their stars, as illustrated in this artist's concept. Jupiter-like planets, called "hot Jupiters" are known to migrate from their star's frigid outer reaches in toward the star and its blistering heat. Dozens of hot Jupiters have been discovered orbiting closely to their stars, whipping around in just days. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope have shown that migrating planets stop their inward journey before reaching their stars, as illustrated in this artist’s concept. Jupiter-like planets, called “hot Jupiters” are known to migrate from their star’s frigid outer reaches in toward the star and its blistering heat. Dozens of hot Jupiters have been discovered orbiting closely to their stars, whipping around in just days. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) discovers additional Asteroids between Jupiter and Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  A new and improved family tree for asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter has been created using data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)

Astronomers used millions of infrared snapshots from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE all-sky survey, called NEOWISE, to identify 28 new asteroid families. The snapshots also helped place thousands of previously hidden and uncategorized asteroids into families for the first time. The findings are a critical step in understanding the origins of asteroid families, and the collisions thought to have created these rocky clans.

This artist's conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s conception shows how families of asteroids are created. Over the history of our solar system, catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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