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Mysterious Rainbow-like ‘Glory Lights’ Observed on Planet Outside Our Solar System for First Time Ever

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Astronomers have detected signs of the rainbow-like ‘glory’ effect on a planet outside our solar system for the first time.

Spotted on a planet that is 637 light years away from Earth, it may offer new information on how habitable distant planets could be.

‘Glory’ lights are concentric rings of light that only occur under specific conditions—namely, when light is reflected off clouds made up of a uniform substance (so far, unknown).

The effect, often seen on Earth and mistaken for a rainbow, is understood to happen when light passes between a narrow opening, such as between water droplets in clouds, causing it to diffract and create ring-like patterns.

The effect has only once been found on another planet – Venus – meaning that, if confirmed, this is the first ‘glory’ to be detected outside our solar system.

Scientists from the University of Warwick believe the ‘glory’ occurred on a planet called WASP-76b. First discovered in 2013, it’s nearly double the size of Jupiter, and known for its ‘hellish’ atmosphere.

One side always faces the sun, reaching unbearably hot temperature of 2,400 degrees Celsius, and one side always faces away from the sun, creating an ‘endless’ night where clouds drip iron molten rain.

However, observations from the European Space Agency’s Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) suggest that between these two sides, there may be a ‘glory’.

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Footage of an Eclipse on Mars Sparks Amusement Because it Looks Like a Googly Eye

in Astronomy 311 views

The Perseverance rover on Mars recorded the potato-shaped moon of Phobos crossing in front of the Sun last week—a Martian eclipse.

The rover was able to snap 68 images of the February 8th transit from its vantage point in the Jezero Crater, many of which unmistakably looked like classic, stick-on googly eyes, points out a science writer.

“Each time these eclipses are observed, they allow scientists to measure subtle shifts in Phobos’ orbit over time,” NASA wrote.

The pictures were captured using the rover’s left Mastcam-Z camera, usually used to take panoramic views of the Martian landscape.

Scientists will be able to use the data captured to study Phobos, named after the ancient Greek god of fear. Phobos is on a collision course with Mars, nearing the Red Planet at a rate of six feet (1.8 meters) every hundred years.

At that rate, the moon will either crash into Mars in 50 million years or break up into a ring.

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Astronomers Find A Fluffy Planet With the Density of a Marshmallow

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Astronomers have found a planet with the average density of a marshmallow.

Along with being a big softie, scientists found that the Jupiter-sized exoplanet would also float if it were hypothetically put in a giant cosmic bathtub.

Astronomers using the Kitt Peak National Observatory telescope in Arizona, observed an unusual planet in orbit around a cool red dwarf star (more on that later).

Located approximately 580 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, this planet, identified as TOI-3757 b, is the lowest-density planet ever detected around a red dwarf star.

TOI-3757 b’s average density was calculated as being 0.27 grams per cubic centimeter (about 17 grams per cubic feet), which would make it less than half the density of Saturn (the lowest-density planet in the Solar System), about one quarter the density of water, or in fact, similar in density to a marshmallow.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite observed the crossing of this planet TOI-3757-b in front of its star, which allowed astronomers to calculate the planet’s diameter to be about 100,000 miles (150,000 kilometers) or about just slightly larger than that of Jupiter.

The planet finishes one complete orbit around its host star in just 3.5 days, 25-times less than the closest planet in our Solar System—Mercury—which takes about 88 days to do so. One might think this would be enough to “roast” our marshmallow planet.

However red dwarf stars can also be cool, or an M dwarf star.

Red dwarf stars are the smallest and dimmest members of so-called main-sequence stars—stars that convert hydrogen into helium in their cores at a steady rate. Though “cool” compared to stars like our Sun, red dwarf stars can be extremely active and erupt with powerful flares capable of stripping a planet of its atmosphere, making this star system a seemingly inhospitable location to form such a gossamer planet.

“Giant planets around red dwarf stars have traditionally been thought to be hard to form,” says Shubham Kanodia, first author on a paper published in The Astronomical Journal.

“So far this has only been looked at with small samples… which typically have found giant planets further away from these red dwarf stars. Until now we have not had a large enough sample of planets to find close-in gas planets in a robust manner.”

There are still unexplained mysteries surrounding TOI-3757 b, the big one being how a gas-giant planet can form around a red dwarf star, and especially such a low-density planet. Kanodia’s team, however, thinks they might have a solution to that mystery.

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Don’t Miss Celestial Show as 5 Planets Align With the Moon for All to See

in Astronomy 3,239 views

It’s been a long time coming, but this June stargazers are finally getting the chance to see five planets align in the night skies.

For the rest of the month—look east towards the pre-dawn sky with the naked eye, or even better, with a telescope or binoculars—to see a five-long string of planets. We haven’t seen this such an alignment in the northern hemisphere for eighteen years, since December 2004.

So which planets are you gazing up at? That’d be Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn lining up in order of their distance from the Sun. Mercury will look brighter and brighter as the days of the month pass, so if you’re not up for pre-dawn risings just yet—maybe work your way up to getting out of bed while the Sun is still below the horizon?

So precisely when, before dawn, should you be peering skyward? 30 minutes before sunrise is best. Check TimeandDate.com for the specific time in your area.

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Pluto Has Giant Ice Volcanoes that Could Hint at Existence of an Underground Ocean With Life

in Astronomy/Enviroment 366 views

As spacecraft New Horizons recently sauntered past Pluto, images sent back to Earth made their way into the hands of a team that confirmed a large part of the dwarf planet’s surface was molded by ice volcanos—and some eruptions are fairly recent on the cosmos calendar.

The findings provide much more detailed evidence about volcanoes on Pluto, and suggest that with all the ice contained there, heat from the planet’s core could maintain a subsurface ocean, a feature known to exist on other planets.

The idea conjures images from mythology or fantasy fiction: a frozen world where volcanoes belch liquid nitrogen and ice, and where underground, close to the pressures and heat of the world’s heart, a vast ocean lies in total darkness. Ce la space.

Ice volcanoes are known from other worlds like Enceladus, the ice-moon of Jupiter, but not like this.

180 miles of Pluto’s surface is ice formed from H20, under which could be a liquid water ocean, according to some existing models in which such a scenario is possible. Back on the surface, nitrogen ice sits at a temperature much closer to its melting point, even in the frigidity of Plutonian weather.

In these conditions, scientists looking at the pictures from New Horizon posit that an area of “hummocky” texture and large rises and mounds located southwest of the famous Sputnik Planitia nitrogen ice sheet was formed by volcanoes.

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Gigantic Planet Found Hidden in Plain Sight

in Astronomy 371 views

An astronomer and a group of eagle-eyed citizen scientists have discovered a giant gas planet hidden from view by typical stargazing tools.

The planet, TOI-2180 b, has the same diameter as Jupiter, but is nearly three times more massive. Researchers at UC Riverside also believe it contains 105 times the mass of Earth in elements heavier than helium and hydrogen. Nothing quite like it exists in our solar system.

“TOI-2180 b is such an exciting planet to have found,” said UCR astronomer Paul Dalba, who helped confirm the planet’s existence. “It hits the trifecta of 1) having a several-hundred-day orbit, 2) being relatively close to Earth (379 lightyears is considered close for an exoplanet), and 3) us being able to see it transit in front of its star. It is very rare for astronomers to discover a planet that checks all three of these boxes.”

Dalba also explained that the planet is special because it takes 261 days to complete a journey around its star, a relatively long time compared to many known gas giants outside our solar system. Its relative proximity to Earth and the brightness of the star it orbits also make it likely astronomers will be able to learn more about it.

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