The depths of Hell: Rocket Lab is sending a mission to Venus
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
3M ago
Next year, the private space company Rocket Lab is going to drop a probe into the atmosphere of Venus to look for life. Yes, seriously. And they’re funding it all themselves, too. The as-yet-unnamed mission is planned for a May 2023 launch to rendezvous with Venus in October, five months later. A backup launch window is January 2025, when Earth and Venus swing back into the right orbital positions ..read more
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The rich get richer: High-mass stars steal planets from smaller stars
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
3M ago
With 5,000+ exoplanets now confirmed to exist, and dozens if not hundreds of still-forming planetary systems observed, we have a pretty good idea in general of how planets form around stars. In brief, locally dense knots of material in clouds of gas collapse, start spinning, and flatten into a disk. The stuff in the center forms the star, and stuff farther out can coalesce into planets. A lot of the details I’ve skipped over are also pretty well understood, while other are still being figured out ..read more
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Happy September equinox!
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
3M ago
Today is the September equinox! Tonight — depending on where you are on the planet; it might be morning or some part of the day — at 01:23 UTC (9:03 p.m. Eastern U.S. time) the center of the Sun will be directly over the Celestial Equator, passing from the northern hemisphere of the sky to the southern. We call that moment the equinox ..read more
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A telescope the size of the Earth sees the wobble of a bizarre planet in a binary star
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
3M ago
It’s a rare thing when every single part of an astronomy news story is super cool, but here we are. You’ll want to stick around for all of this. A telescope the size of the planet has observed a binary red dwarf star system for 14 years, nailing down the positions of the two stars to incredible accuracy, and happened to discover a planet more massive than Jupiter orbiting one of them in a plane hugely tilted to the orbits of the stars around each other ..read more
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A still-forming exoplanet predicted to exist is found in exactly the right spot
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
3M ago
The nearby star AS 209 is pretty astonishing.  Located about 400 light-years from Earth, it’s a little bit more massive than the Sun and very young, probably 1 – 2 million years old. It’s part of what’s called the Ophiuchus star-forming region, a sprawling series of dust and gas clouds where stars are actively being born ..read more
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If you want to live on Mars it’ll take a lot of MOXIE
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
4M ago
At the moment, breathing on Mars is something of a chore.  For one thing, the atmospheric pressure on the surface is less than 1% of Earth’s at sea level. Standing on Mars and trying to suck in some air would be about as effective as trying to do so from three times the height of Mount Everest. For another, the Martian atmosphere is almost entirely carbon dioxide, with just a smattering of nitrogen and argon for fun. Trying to find free oxygen to breathe is a losing game ..read more
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Astronomers find a torched super-Earth on a ONE DAY orbit around its star
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
4M ago
Astronomers have discovered a rare exoplanetary beast, and it’s providing evidence that planetary formation and evolution over time take a lot of different pathways. It’s a super-Earth getting positively cooked by its host star, but the baffling part is its big sibling right next door [link to paper].  ..read more
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Mea culpa: Planet definitions and Earth clearing its orbit
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
4M ago
Every now and again, I screw up.  Oh, it’s extremely rare when I write an article (cough cough), but it happens. Sometimes it’s small enough that I’ll just issue a correction in the text and then forget about it, because hey, that happens. But other times it’s either big enough or an interesting enough mistake that it’s worth following up. Mea culpa is Latin for “my fault.” So, mea culpa. In this case it’s a point I’ve actually made a few times when talking about trying to define what a planet is.  ..read more
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Meteorites from a 2008 asteroid impact came from the space rock’s backside
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
4M ago
On Oct. 7, 2008, just after midnight UTC, an asteroid 4 meters across came screaming into Earth’s atmosphere.  ..read more
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Tonight, NASA's DART will slam into an asteroid at 24,000 kph
SYFY WIRE » Bad Astronomy
by Phil Plait
4M ago
Tonight, if all goes well, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test — or DART — mission will slam into a tiny asteroid moon at nearly 24,000 kilometers per hour, blasting out a cloud of debris, creating a flash of light visible across the solar system, and changing the velocity of the asteroid by less than a millimeter per second… which is tiny, but significant ..read more
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