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Preview: EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science

EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science

The premier online source for science news since 1996. A service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Last Build Date: Fri, 02 Dec 2016 08:45:01 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); All rights reserved.

NASA's Sun-observing IRIS mission

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) The sun may seem static from Earth's vantage point, 93 million miles away, but our star is constantly changing. Complex magnetic interactions force material throughout the solar atmosphere that can burst forth in massive eruptions. NASA's recently extended IRIS mission watches the interface region, the lower levels of the sun's atmosphere.

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(University of Toronto) Same class of algorithms used by Google and Netflix can also tell us if distant planetary systems are stable or not.

Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(Penn State) Dramatic climate cycles on early Mars, triggered by buildup of greenhouse gases, may be the key to understanding how liquid water left its mark on the planet's surface, according to a team of planetary scientists.

NASA sees 'nada' strength left in Tropical Cyclone Nada

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Tropical Cyclone Nada in the Northern Indian Ocean and infrared imagery showed that Nada had 'nada' in terms of strong thunderstorms.

Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(ESA/Hubble Information Centre) New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in greater detail than ever before. The elliptical galaxy is a beautiful cosmic oddity with a bright core wrapped in system of dark, swirling, thread-like filaments.

A&A special issue: GREGOR first results

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(Astronomy & Astrophysics) This special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics contains a series of scientific articles, which are based on data obtained with the GREGOR solar telescope in 2014 and 2015. This period represents the initial phase of scientific use, and was carried out jointly by all partners of the GREGOR consortium. These articles demonstrate the potential of the telescope and its instruments at this early stage of development.

Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 00:00:00 EST

(National Radio Astronomy Observatory) Unlike the situation in the current Universe, a giant galaxy in a cluster of protogalaxies is growing by feeding on surprisingly-dense surrounding gas, rather than by cannibalizing neighbors.

UCLA astronomers watch star clusters spewing out dust

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(University of California - Los Angeles) A team led by UCLA astronomers has used new data to show that stars are responsible for producing dust on galactic scales.

GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite gathered rainfall data on the severe storms that impacted the southeastern US over two days. From Tuesday evening, Nov. 29 through Wednesday morning, Nov. 30, 2016 tornadoes formed along a squall line in advance of a cold front that moved through the Southeast. Over three dozen tornadoes were reported with sightings occurring in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

NASA sees Tropical Storm Nada affected by wind shear

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite revealed that wind shear was affecting Tropical Cyclone Nada in the Northern Indian Ocean.

It's a bird... It's a plane... It's the tiniest asteroid!

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(University of Arizona) A team led by UA astronomer Vishnu Reddy has characterized the smallest known asteroid using Earth-based telescopes. Measuring just six feet across, asteroid 2015 TC25 also is one of the brightest, according to the study.

Modeling offers new perspective on how Pluto's 'icy heart' came to be

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(University of Maryland) Pluto's 'icy heart' is a bright, two-lobed feature on its surface that has attracted researchers ever since its discovery. Of particular interest is the heart's western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, whose unique attributes have spurred a number of scenarios for its formation, all of which identify the feature as an impact basin.A new study suggests that Sputnik Planitia formed early in Pluto's history and that its attributes are inevitable consequences of evolutionary processes.

First signs of weird quantum property of empty space?

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(ESO) By studying the light emitted from an extraordinarily dense and strongly magnetized neutron star using ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers may have found the first observational indications of a strange quantum effect, first predicted in the 1930s. The polarization of the observed light suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence.

Georgia State opens South Pole Solar Observatory in Antarctica

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(Georgia State University) Dr. Stuart Jefferies, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State University, will lead a multi-institutional team in opening the South Pole Solar Observatory in Antarctica and installing and operating instruments that will record high-resolution images of the sun.

Gone with the wind: Mission conclusion for instrument to monitor ocean winds

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Johnson Space Center) On Sept. 21, 2014, NASA scientists and engineers launched RapidScat toward the orbiting International Space Station, 250 miles above the Earth's surface, with a few objectives in mind: improve weather forecasting on Earth, provide cross-calibration for all international satellites that monitor ocean winds, and improve estimates of how ocean winds change throughout the day, around the globe.

IAU formally approves 227 star names

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(International Astronomical Union) The creation of a specialised IAU Working Group, the Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), was approved by the IAU Executive Committee in May 2016 to formalize star names that have been used colloquially for centuries. WGSN has now established a new catalogue of IAU star names, with the first set of 227 approved names published on the IAU website.

Researchers propose low-mass supernova triggered formation of solar system

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(University of Minnesota) A research team led by University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy Professor Yong-Zhong Qian uses new models and evidence from meteorites to show that a low-mass supernova triggered the formation of our solar system.

NASA's Aqua satellite sees remnants of Tropical Cyclone Tokage

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) Tropical Cyclone Tokage fell apart after crossing the Philippines and moving into the South China Sea where wind shear battered the storm. NASA's Aqua satellite took a visible picture of the storm as it was being torn apart on Nov. 28.

Mystery of ultra-diffuse faint galaxies solved

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(University of Copenhagen - Niels Bohr Institute) Researchers have observed some very faint, diffuse galaxies. It has been a mystery, how galaxies so faint -- containing up to 1,000 times fewer stars than the Milky Way could still be just as large. Now new research from the Niels Bohr Institute shows that if a lot of supernovae explode during the star formation process, it can result in both the stars and the dark matter being pushed outwards, causing the galaxy to expand.

Timing the shadow of a potentially habitable extrasolar planet

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(National Institutes of Natural Sciences) A group of researchers from NAOJ, the University of Tokyo, and the Astrobiology Center among others has observed the transit of a potentially Earth-like extrasolar planet using the MuSCAT instrument on the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory 188-cm telescope, and measured the orbital period with a high precision of about 18 seconds. This result is an important step towards the search for extraterrestrial life, knowing exactly when to watch for the transits using the next generation telescopes.

Study finds cause of visual impairment in astronauts

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(Radiological Society of North America) A visual problem affecting astronauts who serve on lengthy missions in space is related to volume changes in the clear fluid that is found around the brain and spinal cord, according to new research being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Theory that challenges Einstein's physics could soon be put to the test

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(Imperial College London) Scientists behind a theory that the speed of light is variable -- and not constant as Einstein suggested -- have made a prediction that could be tested.

Did comets kick-start life on Earth? (video)

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(American Chemical Society) The origins of life on Earth are still shrouded in mystery. One compelling possibility is that comets delivered the building blocks for life eons ago. This week, Speaking of Chemistry explains the chemistry behind how these icy, lumpy space rocks might have seeded life on Earth. Check out the video here:

Countdown to the space mission 'Solar Orbiter'

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(Kiel University) Around five years ago, a team led by a physicist from Kiel University, Professor Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber, won the coveted tender for providing instruments to be placed on board the 'Solar Orbiter' space probe. Now the flight instruments from Kiel were handed over to the space probe installation team in England.

NASA sees Tropical Storm Otto heading toward landfall in Central America

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:00:00 EST

(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) Satellites are keeping track of late-season Tropical Storm Otto as it threatens Central America. NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of Otto as it was briefly strengthening into a hurricane.