Heavens

Summary:

To find life on other planets, scientists look for traces of gases produced by living things

Some stars may produce these gases in a planet without life

The SISTINE sounding rocket studies stars to find which gases are valid signs of life

In the hunt for life on other worlds, astronomers scour over planets that are light-years away. They need ways to identify life from afar -- but what counts as good evidence?

By measuring the distance from our sun to thousands of individual pulsating stars scattered across the Milky Way, researchers have charted our Galaxy on a larger scale than ever before. Their new three-dimensional map, which provides a broad view of our place among the stars, reveals the S-like structure of the Milky Way's warped stellar disc. "Our map shows the Milky Way disk is not flat. It is warped and twisted," says co-author Przemek Mroz in a related video.

A newly discovered ancient star containing a record-low amount of iron carries evidence of a class of even older stars, long hypothesised but assumed to have vanished.

In a paper published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, researchers led by Dr Thomas Nordlander of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) confirm the existence of an ultra-metal-poor red giant star, located in the halo of the Milky Way, on the other side of the Galaxy about 35,000 light-years from Earth.

The scorching hot exoplanet WASP-121b may not be shredding any heavy metal guitar riffs, but it is sending heavy metals such as iron and magnesium into space. The distant planet's atmosphere is so hot that metal is vaporizing and escaping the planet's gravitational pull. The intense gravity of the planet's host star has also deformed the sizzling planet into a football shape.

How can a planet be "hotter than hot?" The answer is when heavy metals are detected escaping from the planet's atmosphere, instead of condensing into clouds.

Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal magnesium and iron gas streaming from the strange world outside our solar system known as WASP-121b. The observations represent the first time that so-called "heavy metals"--elements heavier than hydrogen and helium--have been spotted escaping from a hot Jupiter, a large, gaseous exoplanet very close to its star.

ITHACA, N.Y. - NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission designed to comb the heavens for exoplanets, has discovered its first potentially habitable world outside of our own solar system - and an international team of astronomers has characterized the super-Earth, about 31 light-years away.

A piping hot planet discovered by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has pointed the way to additional worlds orbiting the same star, one of which is located in the star's habitable zone. If made of rock, this planet may be around twice Earth's size.

NASA's newest planet-hunting satellite has discovered a type of planet missing from our own solar system.

Launched in 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has found three new worlds around a neighboring star. Stephen Kane, a UC Riverside associate professor of planetary astrophysics, says the new star system, called TESS Object of Interest, or TOI-270, is exactly what the satellite was designed to find.

MADISON - The sun's solar wind affects nearly everything in the solar system. It can disrupt the function of Earth's satellites and creates the lights of the auroras.

A new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison physicists mimicked solar winds in the lab, confirming how they develop and providing an Earth-bound model for the future study of solar physics.

More than 100 years after Albert Einstein published his iconic general theory of relativity, it is beginning to fray at the edges, said Andrea Ghez, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy. Now, in the most comprehensive test of general relativity near the monstrous black hole at the center of our galaxy, Ghez and her research team report July 25 in the journal Science that Einstein's general theory of relativity holds up.

In a detailed study of a star orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, researchers report that Einstein's theory of general relativity (GR) accurately describes the behavior of light struggling to escape the gravity around this massive structure. The researchers' analysis involved detecting an effect known as "gravitational redshift" in the light emitted by a star closely orbiting the supermassive black hole, as the star was at its closest point to the blackhole in its 16-year orbit.

HANOVER, N.H. - July 25, 2019 - Researchers at Dartmouth College have discovered a planet orbiting one of the brightest young stars known, according to a study published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Aged at approximately 45 million years old, the star and its planet could provide valuable information on how planetary bodies form.

Observations made with a new instrument developed for use at the 2.1-meter (84-inch) telescope at the National Science Foundation's Kitt Peak National Observatory have led to the discovery of the fastest eclipsing white dwarf binary yet known. Clocking in with an orbital period of only 6.91 minutes, the rapidly orbiting stars are expected to be one of the strongest sources of gravitational waves detectable with LISA, the future space-based gravitational wave detector.

The Dense "Afterlives" of Stars

In a pair of new papers, scientists paint a picture of how solar cycles suddenly die, potentially causing tsunamis of plasma to race through the Sun's interior and trigger the birth of the next sunspot cycle only a few short weeks later.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is set to become the largest radio telescope on Earth. Bielefeld University researchers together with the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and international partners have now examined the SKA-MPG telescope--a prototype for the part of the SKA that receives signals in the mid-frequency range.