Dwarf Planets at Our Solar System’s Frozen Edge Could Be Hiding Warm Oceans : ScienceAlert

The Solar System doesn’t get much colder than the Kuiper Belt. Out past the orbit of Pluto, far from the warmth of the Sun, drifts a vast expanse of icy rocks and dwarf planets thought too cold to be little more than snowballs in outer space. As the New Horizons data on Pluto showed, however, … Read more

Scientists say 2 solar system dwarf planets may harbor underground oceans

Two dwarf planets within our solar system, named Eris and Makemake, might exhibit enough geothermal activity to maintain oceans of liquid water within, according to modeling that describes new observations made with the James Webb Space Telescope. “We see some interesting signs of hot times in cool places,” said Christopher Glein, a planetary geochemist from … Read more

Orbital resonance − the striking gravitational dance done by planets with aligning orbits

Planets orbit their parent stars while separated by enormous distances – in our solar system, planets are like grains of sand in a region the size of a football field. The time that planets take to orbit their suns have no specific relationship to each other. But sometimes, their orbits display striking patterns. For example, … Read more

A star’s extreme outburst could be tormenting baby planets

An extreme eruption from a young star that resembles the sun suggests budding planets have to exist in a rather savage environment. A team of scientists from the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) used the Submillimeter Array (SMA), an array of telescopes on Maunakea in Hawaii, to observe the young star HD 283572. The crew watched as HD … Read more

Planets Orbiting Dead Stars Foretell the Solar System’s Far-Future Fate

In the distant future—about six billion or seven billion years hence—the sun will start to die, swelling up into a bloated red giant. In a span of several hundred million years it will blow away its outer layers, lose about half its mass and leave behind its überhot, überdense, super small core: a white dwarf. … Read more

Diamonds Could Be Raining From The Sky on Far More Planets Than We Realized : ScienceAlert

If it were ever possible to take a flight through the extreme conditions of Neptune’s atmosphere, we might experience the fascinating phenomenon of diamond rain tapping at our window. According to a new study by an international team of researchers, such a blizzard of bling could be relatively common throughout the Universe. Carbon can link … Read more

Wild Mars plane concept could seek water from high in the Red Planet’s atmosphere

The search for water on Mars could include a hunt from Red Planet skies. An early-stage vehicle, affectionately called MAGGIE, would search for water on Mars from high in the planet’s atmosphere. In fact, MAGGIE just received its first tranche of funding from NASA on the long road to getting ready for flight. While there’s … Read more

How Being Wobbly Gives Earth and Possibly Other Planets Their Seasons

The following essay is reprinted with permission from The Conversation, an online publication covering the latest research. Spring, summer, fall and winter – the seasons on Earth change every few months, around the same time every year. It’s easy to take this cycle for granted here on Earth, but not every planet has a regular … Read more

Planets can form much faster than thought, new ALMA photos suggest

Clouds of dust and gas not far from our solar system are giving astronomers a rare glimpse into the earliest stages of planet formation. These clouds, which are between 200,000 and 500,000 years old and lie within 700 light-years of Earth, have been spotted hosting dusty, gas-rich disks around a central star — the birthplaces … Read more

How giant impacts shaped the formation of the solar system’s planets

If you want to build a planet, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty. That’s the lesson from a recent paper, which outlines just how vital giant impacts are to the formation of planets. Astronomers still aren’t exactly sure how planets get their start. Initially, star systems are just clouds of gas and … Read more